Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Visit With Distractions

I am not easily distracted. I'm not talking about distractions from the every day...if you start talking during a movie...that distracts me... and everyone else by the way.

When it comes to more important things though, like Amy, my work, and lately our finances, I can be very focused. It's a blessing in many ways, but sometimes I over do.

Lately I've been guilty of that I think, so it was nice for my oldest brother Stan to drive in this morning for a visit.

Stan and I are very similar in many ways. He has worked in the radio industry his entire adult life, as have I...albeit he made money doing it. We're both dog lovers...although his are all brighter (which really isn't saying much).

We have both battled demons.

As we grew older, we grew apart...in physical distance first. We kept in touch on birthdays but that was about it.

Then eight years ago Stan moved from Rochester, New York to Austin and suddenly it was odd. In the many years in between I had become a searching Christian, a stepfather, and certainly more conservative than in my youth.

Stan had become very liberal - today he thinks liberal describes him as too right wing - passionately political, and there were other issues that made it hard to simply be brothers...even though we were now less than 60 miles apart.

It was rocky for a long time... we both tried, then we both agreed not to try so hard....and the distance seemed to grow.

Eventually, we both made subtle overtures and things got better.

Living in Austin, Stan has seen the inner workings of politics up close now and I suppose that may have humbled his idealism a bit. I lived in Austin for a few years, and have certainly been around enough politicians to know it can happen.

Stan is still very passionate. He's active in extreme liberal causes, but also in some ventures that are outside the boundaries of politics, he works to help and comfort people in need.

He still gets in an occasional jab about "Those blankety blank Republicans", but those remarks don't dominate our conversations.

Stan has become more spiritual. We have differences there too I suppose, but they haven't come up.

Today, Stan met me at the hospital to visit with Amy... we went to lunch....he listened more than anything else.
He provided a willing ear, and a much needed distraction.

The reason I mention Stan at all today is that this weekend Chuck Sigars is coming to town. Chuck writes the blog, "The World According to Chuck" which I found through Gordon's blog some time back.

Gordon knows more about Chuck than I do. They have a lot in common; both are writers, dreamers, and deep seekers. They've communicated a lot in the past year. I know a little about Chuck. We've spoken once on the phone and exchanged a few emails this week in advance of his trip. We're about the same age, and from what I gather we have perhaps shared some of the same demons too.

I also know his political alignment differs from mine.

I know that primarily because it was his sister, Jeanne with whom I first interacted.

Last May, Chuck had written a blog about political differences of opinion and I had left a comment which mentioned my brother Stan. My exact words (ain't Google grand by the way?) were: I have a brother who is a vehement liberal Democrat. He wonders why we're not closer. It's not because I don't love him dearly, or that his opinions are so alien to me that I can't be around him. It's because he's so caught up in the fervor of his beliefs that he drowns out his being...it's all he talks about.

I think most of us share far more common ground where we could have very peaceful times, if we weren't so busy defending small pieces of turf in our minds.

Chuck's sister wrote me a very kind email out of the blue and I gathered that she and Chuck have had their political disputes too. I also could tell she loves him a great deal.

I wrote back saying in part that is one thing that makes family interesting and perhaps God figures until we learn to live with each others differences, flaws and failings in small groups, we're never going to get the big picture.

I don't expect to talk politics with Chuck this weekend. I really think I'll probably spend more time watching him and Gordon interact.

No matter what though, it's going to be a nice distraction.