During the Vietnam War which was going on when I was draft age, many protestors at rallies carried signs that read “MAKE LOVE — NOT WAR” in the course of urging the disengagement of our military from a minor East Asian nation we didn’t much care about until it started turning RED. About 10 years ago, I penned the words shared in the title of this post, printed them on 8 x 10 paper and taped them to the insides of doors throughout my home. If you’re visiting me at the house and open the door to my bathroom medicine cabinet today, you find a 20-year-old box of Curad band-aids, a can of Gillette Foamy shaving cream I’ve not touched in five years, a bottle of Old Spice aftershave my dad had in his medicine cabinet when he died in 1994 and a small plastic drinking glass I purchased soon after I moved into this house in 1996, and on the inside of the mirrored door to the medicine cabinet, a black on yellow sign that reads “Make LIFE Not Woe.” Dutt0 the closet door in the hall that opens to my collection of close to 20,000 35mm slides of airplanes, ditto a kitchen cabinet door where I keep the strainers and measuring cups. I’ve tried to live by my own advice since double-side tape taping them to those doors. In 2011, I’m going to try a little harder.
What is “love?” I no longer define it as I did when I was 30 and 40. Today I doubt that I would recognize it if I saw it. I see and value “friendship,” but even that requires elements of what I used to call love: unlimited patience, unconditional forgiveness of the minor travesties of friends. I still seek what I remember to have seemed “love” but I’m no longer beating myself over the head in its absence starting New Year’s Eve, 2010.
I am resolved to creating LIFE: speaking for what I advocate the way I might sling hot Peter Pan Peanut Butter from a butter knife in the general direction of the rest of the world. I like Peter Pan crunchy. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t enjoy a gob or two from a chair-side jar in my living room after diner for dessert, washed down by iced tea or wine. I advocate nourishing the world with what nourishes me, what sustains me. I hurl it at the world: friends, acquaintances and strangers . . . . and if it doesn’t stick, that’s okay. I hurl it because the world is too far away for me to serve it. The world, most all of it, keeps its distance, but I will hurl it just the same.
Make LIFE. Let the rest of the world swallow what it chooses to swallow. You don’t have to destroy what nourishes another to share what nourishes you, by hurling it if necessary and by spoon- feeding it the way Mom used to do when I was three years old and had no interest in tasting cabbage. Advocate. If it sticks, the world will be a better place, and if it doesn’t you will earn the grace that comes from being true to yourself. There is place for propriety and manners in this world for those who aspire to better than vomiting bad hot dogs and beer from the high bleacher seats. Engage that place. Sling that nourishment to the bleachers if you choose — Isn’t that what evangelical Christianity is about? — or affirm your world and yourself closer to the ball game.
I resolve to make LIFE, not Woe, in 2011.
I hope you will too.
Happy new year!
Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and prosper.