1993. Two days shy of his second birthday, my firstborn, Jonathan, is exploring the grassy area behind the apartment building. His legs, alive with energy and joy, make the swish-squish sound that is the signature of the modern disposable diaper. I watch him from a distance, sitting on a concrete staircase, guitar in my lap, dreaming, resting.
Subscribe to Steven Kalas RSS feed
Sooner or later in long-term therapy, most adult patients will drift — or dive — toward their family history. They begin to take a more comprehensive, more honest and accurate inventory of realities they faced as children. The strength and weaknesses, health and unhealth, justice and injustice of the families in which they were reared. Because all families have some combination of all of those things.
I tune into the World Cup final just as Germany and Argentina head to “extra time,” deadlocked in an epic, scoreless tie. My son, Joseph The Football Player, says, “I didn’t think you liked soccer, Papa.”
The summer sun yields to the crest of the mountain. The shadows deepen, then darken.
I’m sitting in a room with 50-plus people who are very different, yet have one very important thing in common. We are seekers.
When I stand back and observe law enforcement and military service in the United States, the sheer swath, depth and breadth of options is impressive. It’s a continuum that begins with mere presence and ends with a thermonuclear strike.
The sun cracks the horizon on my 23rd canvas of our tent. Curled in my sleeping bag, I notice I’m cold. It’s mid-June, and I am cold! Later today it will be a billion degrees in the Mojave Desert. But right now, camped on the shores of Navajo Lake in Kane County, Utah, the thermometer registers 36 degrees.
I once tried to craft a definition of spirituality that could be universalized. That is, the definition would not and could not be “owned” or dominated by any particular religion.
Fistfights were something I managed to avoid during childhood. See, boys come in varieties.
Let me be clear that, until a few days ago, I had never heard of The Western Center for Journalism, which describes itself as “a vigorous watchdog that reports on government corruption and abuse. … We believe that informed public debate requires quality journalism and reporting.”
Too late, you realize you’re in love.
Last week in this space I wrote about the joy and power of music, the way it captures and catalogs times and places in our lives.
Do you have a favorite song? Oh, the world is filled with such beautiful and varied music.
I remember James Taylor’s lyrics:
The older I get, the more I become certain of what I do not know. Here’s something I do not know: I do not know if my fierce passion about the subject of evil is learned or inherent.
“You OK, Dad?”
Four years of my professional life were spent working in hospice. Director of bereavement and pastoral care. Simply put, four of the best years of my life. Creative, energizing and a daily learning curve. A downer? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite. More hopeful, inspirational, meaningful.
I fell in love with basketball at a summer baseball camp at Northern Arizona University. I was 8 years old. We happened by the gym during “free time,” and I found myself in a pickup game. It was like I’d played this game in a previous life. I became impassioned.
The nice woman pays her bill, right there in my office, placing $200 in cash on my coffee table. She exits. I count the cash. There are not 10 $20 bills. There are 11. I’m holding an extra $20.
The voice mail is from a producer of a new “docudrama” series. Docudrama, I learn when I call back, is the next evolution of reality television.
First love is a life-changing experience. It happens to most people in adolescence. I waited a bit longer, 22 years old when I, by way of introduction, hit a sunbathing Gamma Phi Delta with a Frisbee. Actually, my friend threw the fateful disc, he and I on a wide expanse of grass behind the chapel at Southern Methodist University, living large and youthful in the spring sunshine.
The woman is a wife of 14 years. She feels guilty, even as she tells me she has yet to do anything wrong. She feels guilty because she is drawn to the attention and desire of a man who is not her husband.
When I was in kindergarten, Stevie Duffy was my nemesis. I’m astonished, actually, that I still remember his name. And his face. And his voice. But it’s all quite keen in my mind.
I can’t get sloppy or casual with this guy. His brain is smart, thorough and relentless. He’s a bit intense, but so am I, so maybe we’re a good fit. He wants nothing more (and nothing less) than to be a good human being. And, someday, he’d like to be a good mate and life partner in a terrific relationship.
Cousin 1 says he believes the guilt his Catholic family taught him was important for his emotional development. Cousin 2 disagrees. She says that same family’s teachings about guilt did nothing to enhance her inner voice for right and wrong. Interesting discussion. But, when I get caught eavesdropping, they toss the debate in my lap.