Returning Home

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Tomorrow I head back home after seven days away and sometimes I wonder what I am going home for and who I am going home to. You tell me that you are all fine. That things are going along comfortably without me. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of my being there when it is so obvious that my being there is not what you want?

This morning when you told me that you asked the kids whether they missed me it made me wonder whether you had an ulterior motive. I mean, who asks their kids that? Kids always miss their mothers. Or were you hoping that they would say no so you wouldn’t feel guilty about what it is you appear to want to do?

But more importantly, the fact that you could not and would not give me what I needed…love words…speaks volumes about where our relationship is at. It crushed my soul that you feel such distaste for me that you could not say you missed me and you loved me. Whether you wouldn’t or your couldn’t…neither one is acceptable for is shows a lack of respect, caring and obviously the type of love that is needed for a marriage to flourish. Shutting down only allows you to keep yourself shut off and to reflect back any love that is directed to you which then allows you to convince yourself that I don’t love you. And it is all because you don’t want that love…at least from me. Or so it would appear.

Even more importantly, I wonder what parts of myself I should bring back and what parts I should leave behind that would help you to love me again. Which parts do I leave at the door because they are no longer desired or is it a matter of just not stepping over the threshold at all because there is nothing there that appeals to your sense of what a marriage should be. And it makes me resentful that I feel that I have to leave the best parts of me at the door to get your approval. That I have to drop off that introspective part, my inquisitive nature, and the part that believes you when you say “I love you” at the prompt.

After we talked this afternoon you said that the letter I sent you made you feel that you always disappointed me but to me telling your lover what it is you need is giving them the opportunity to create a better relationship. And me too. Yet, if the truth be told I think you USE that fact that you feel like you disappoint me as an excuse to be bitter and to prove to yourself that you are right. That nothing you do will make me happy. But I should be able to state my thoughts without being made to feel like if I do that you will think that you disappoint me. Often I believe that if I just smiled and never told you how I felt about anything that would make you happy and comfortable because you would never have to look at things that you didn’t want to. You could live in la-la land being happy while I became more and more miserable being something I am not. I mean if I can’t say in the kindess way I know how what I need from a relationship then I think that a life size blow up doll is your next option. Probably a skinny brunette.

As it is I wish you would ask yourself why you could not and would not assure me of your love? Why would you not say you missed me? Are you withholding because you no longer love me? If so, I can tell you that it feels cruel and inhumane. It feels life taking not life giving.

Yes, I know that yesterday I discussed that fact that holding onto our hurts only increases our own suffering and it does. I know this to be true because yesterday, I did let them go and they left leaving behind the lessons to unpack and contemplate. Yet, here they are back again and this feels like a major disappointment to me because it feels like I have failed myself as I pull out this hurt once again. But I hope in writing all of this, that by seeing my words in front of me, I can let it go and start concentrating on the lessons that are presenting themselves so I can grow.

Maybe it is all baloney. Maybe I can never be that type of person. Maybe I am just kidding and deluding myself but I  would like to think not. I believe that I can and will be able to re-train my brain into seeing things in a new light. And that if I can start to apply what I have learn from these lessons that I find myself intertwined in at this moment;  that someday in the not so distant future that I will finally not allow myself to give you such power over my own emotions. That I will learn to let go of things I cannot control and accept those things that I cannot.

Acceptance isn’t instantaneous. Learning how to allow acceptance to float throughout your life takes practice. Learning that you will not get everything you want from your relationship and you might have to find other ways to fill the void is something I am beginning to seriously consider and am searching for ways in which I can have my needs meet through my own actions rather than yours. It will take a while more. I am still learning. How long it will take I cannot say. But I know that when I come to accept you and myself that things will improve dramatically.

Until then I know that I am doing the best I can working with what I have got at this moment in time. If it is not enough for you then I am truly sorry. If it is, then I hope you have the courage to give me the time that I need to complete this journey that I am on, on my own terms and at my own pace. If you cannot, then you will lose out on something wonderul in the future. I may not know much but this much I know to be true.

 

 

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Quieting My Soul

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It used to be that for my husband’s job we would move about every 2 years. I loved the excitement of it all. The new house, new town, new things to do. I loved purging my life of all the un’s … the un-used, the un-wanted and the un-needed. I loved starting life “over.”

For the past 10 years we have lived in one town but moved to three different houses. We have been in this one 5 years. About the longest we have ever lived in one place and to tell you the truth…I am ready to move. This wouldn’t be a problem except that it is…B refuses to move again. I get it. It is a pain to move….so much to do…taking apart, putting together, cleaning, painting, and organizing, Yet, I was good at it. Amazingly so. In fact, I got so good at moving I would have all my boxes unpacked within the first 72 hours. No boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be unpacked for me. I took that as a personal affront if things were not in place where they belonged…soul included. And for a while my soul would be at peace while it explored and planned and painted.

My soul is a nervous one. One that craves excitement, changes and challenges. My soul has a hard time sitting and staying in one place. And when my soul gets itchy I know that it is time to move. Yet, I can’t. B no longer wants to buy and sell houses; no longer wants the bother.

So how does one feed an itchy soul?

I am not sure. I am meditating which calms and centers me but still my soul is restless. I am working on my novel but still my soul wants to wander. Sometimes it feels as if my soul is akin to a ghost wandering the halls of an old mansion looking for a way to get back into herself. And I am just not sure how to quiet her.

Will it quiet when I am living where I really want to be? Will it quiet when my marriage is good again? Will it quiet when I know what the future holds for my two autistic sons? Or do some souls never quiet because they are always looking to stir things up and invite chaos into their lives?

People say doing things for others helps quiet the soul. I haven’t found that to be true yet but I am hoping to start volunteering for a local hospice program and perhaps that will help…being close to death often reminds you how precious it all is and plants seeds of contentment in your soul.

Or perhaps quieting the soul it is more ominous to me than I truly want to recognize. Maybe my soul believes that quieting itself means I have given up… that I no longer am wanting or expecting change, that I am content and therefore complacent, that I am accepting of whatever comes my way; no longer carving out a life of my own. Done. Finished. Bricked up like a fireplace in an old house so as to eliminate the drafts. And if this is what quieting the soul is all about then frankly it scares the crap out of me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to have a wandering soul and sometimes I wonder if wandering is better than a soul lost to complacency. I’m sure there must be a middle ground but I have been unable to find it. For now my soul wants a change but perhaps this time the change will have to be within me and not through external circumstances. Looking inward instead of out. I am not sure but I know without a doubt that change is acoming’.

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Sit Still

It’s Sunday. B is out hiking in the mountains with Paul while I put on 8,500 steps talking and walking around the block. Gracie is sitting here whining at me, “I’m bored. There is nothing to do!” while Andre keeps raiding the refrigerator.

Me? Working on a puzzle and refusing to go anywhere at all. I don’t want to move after being on the go constantly last week . I want to sit in the stillness of the day and observe, ask questions and just enjoy what we have created together. But pressure is being put on me by the kids to leave the house…go food shopping or somewhere fun. You are wasting your time trying to convince me for its not happening today unless you are losing blood in vast quantities. And maybe not even then.

I have no idea how this generation of kids is going to survive when they are adults. Without 24/7 entertainment I suspect they will perish should the time come when there is a power outage that lasts over one hour. Having to always be entertained is a great burden and trying to fill it will be an exhausting never-ending effort when they are adults. In addition, they will have to make a ton of money to pay for their entertainment addiction. Frankly, illegal drugs would cost them less.

And so my sweet kidlets , I just want you to know I am doing you a favor by trying to break this chain of constant on-demand entertainment. Let’s relax… do nothing… or lets try some mediation. Let’s just zen out together doing something together that costs nothing. Believe it or not, we can just sit in the stillness with one another and we will be just fine. Who knows, you may just learn to appreciate the qualities that make us…us. And that would be mighty fine entertainment.

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Contemplation

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This morning I went to Pilate class in hopes that someday I will be able to bend down and touch my toes with my knees straight. I tell you this with some embarrassment, my face a hazy red even as I write this confession which when spoken aloud might sound something like, “Dear Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. I am guilty of gluttony. Of sloth too. Oh, I forgot to mention acedia. Definitely acedia. Maybe, I should thrown in a little wrath at my lack of impulse control too. Help me!”

Unfortunately, these vices are just the ones that come to mind within 5.2 seconds of the thought. Yes, paying someone to exercise with me feels somewhat tawdry and on the edge of something shameful; like eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself  or having sex in a public place and getting caught with your pants down. In a world dominated by inequity it is the definition of gross irony.

In many other countries I would not have this problem of trying to stay in shape. I could easily be starving. Or walking down to the river to carry water up to my hut for cooking numerous times per day. Maybe I would be journeying five long miles each way to school so I could get an education. Or perhaps I would be picking through trash in a giant garbage heap in an effort to survive. There is no doubt I would be in shape because I would be working from sun up to sun down in ways that tax all your muscles as well as your spirit in order to get the job of survival done. Skinny in these parts of the world is more than just a desire to satisfy cultural “ideals.” Instead, it is a mandatory state that naturally occurs due to too little food and too much work. A choice concerning body image is not found anywhere in the life equation for so many women.

No, this is not the LIBERAL WHITE GUILT that so many speak of. It is witnessing firsthand the back breaking work that is required of so many of millions of people throughout the world on a daily basis. It is trying my hand washing hundred of dirty diapers used in an orphanage in Ethiopia. It is laying brick in a hamlet in Mexico.  It is trying to teach students without the necessary materials. Or laying pipe for fresh water in a remote village. These are the things that have shown me how little I know about hard work, suffering, and how much a dollar means to so many. More importantly, they remind me about the privilege of choice which I possess and I rarely think of as I go about my busy day. A choice that vast numbers of people do not have about what their day brings. Suffering instead of starvation, bombs, vicious gang rapes, and of having to beg in the street for pennies. These are the things of which I know nothing and of which too many know too much about.

So I hop into my car and drive the four miles to my pilates class contemplating the size of my butt and the state of the world, both of which are loose and somewhat saggy. And as I do, I find I have mixed feelings about this life I lead in which I have the luxury of contemplation and not the burden of shoeless feet. And I  begin to wonder about the travels of “the other/my sister/ my fellow human being” as we both make our way down these two very different roads that we both call life and what I can do to help.

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Under The Strawberry Moon

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Tonight, the first night of summer to be exact, a strawberry moon rose steadily from horizon to that place so high in the sky that it appeared to take up almost all the space in the galaxy, leaving room for nothing but a few pulsating stars. The moon’s color was like a Mary Magdalene rose…fluffy and full the luscious golden pink  tinged color. I have seen better strawberry moons where the sky had the hue of a hearty David Austin Sharifa Asma rose, it’s brilliant pink filling the night sky; but if you were just looking for something like a miracle of nature, the other night would do just fine.

As B and I held hands in awe, gazing at the nights passion play, I thought about how the moon had changed from when I was a child. Back then, I would search for the Man in the Moon, who seemed to hide in delight every time I tried to get a glimpse of him. Later, as children arrived and the busy demands of motherhood intervened; I stole quick glances at the sky seldom appreciating the miracle that was unfolding above me. But tonight, my appreciation for the moon peaked when B said, “I love to see the glow of the moon as it shines over you.”

These days as I settle into the later part of my life, I see in the moon what I see in myself. A creation that is glorious in its simplicity, sparkly, and has no ambitions to be anything but what it is…a moon. Like the moon I wish to be appreciated for the light that shines outward from me and for producing those joyous high tides can help change the landscape around us.  And as moon also provides stability to the earth, its gravitational pull ensuring that we don’t spin violently out of control, I would like to be seen as possessing that kind of dependability and support to my family and friends as life shifts around us. And while the moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 4 cm per year, I would like to think that when it is my time to move on that I will have left just enough light in my children’s lives to guide them even when clouds linger overhead.

For I am like a strawberry moon…I am brilliant, full of life, and just freakin’ spectacular.

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Love Knows No Bounds

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Last night my sweet aunt Nan died. She was almost 90. Nan was the one I could call and discuss family politics with. She always had an answer to ponder and at times I think she knew her brother, my Dad, almost better than he knew himself. She was the one who nurtured my interest in genealogy and the records I am going through now are a result of her holding onto those pieces of family history that she believed could improve our future if we had access to the past. Yes, Aunt Nan was the family historian and was well suited for the job.

Aunt Nan was also a go-getter. She was practical, forthright, always willing to take your call, and smart as a whip.  She was someone I admired immensely. And while the majority of her life was happy and enjoyable, the end was not, as she suffered from severe dementia for the past seven years or so.

Dementia is cruel. It is disheartening and robs its victims of their personalities. It steals away their memories and drops a steal-clad veil over what makes a person uniquely themselves. For years, Aunt Nan no longer knew her husband, her children, her life-long friends, and was unable to celebrate the births of her great-grandchildren in any sort of meaningful way. While she held a baby she had no idea who the baby belonged to. Even worse, she lost a child and never knew it. Aunt Nan became a shell of her former self. Her brain  locked away while her body lingered on.

Unfortunately, a few years after Nan’s mind started shutting down, her husband, Uncle J, also began developing dementia. It was heartbreaking to see this former surgeon slowly begin to fade away into himself.My cousins now had two parents who needed round-the-clock care. I grieved for them understanding the difficulties of having two parents who were both incapacitated. To make matters worse, a doctor recently told the family that Aunt Nan could live another 10 years because she was as healthy as a horse.

Then three weeks ago my Uncle J died. It was expected for he was fading and rebounding for the past several weeks. He and Aunt Nan had been married 64 years. Thankfully, Nan didn’t know that J was gone…or did she?

It seems strange that a woman who just a few weeks ago was as healthy as a horse just up and dies. Rapidly. With only a few days notice. And it makes me wonder if love truly does transcend all. Is there some sort or life current that flows silently between long time lovers? Do we somehow “know” what we don’t? Can deep-seated love never be pulled out of you? It seems plausible. After all, I have many instances in my life where I knew something bad had happened to someone though I could not pick up on the particulars of what it was.

I think we all have invisible connections to those we love. Some of these “currents” are stronger than others but often, if we try, I think we can tap into them. Sometimes we get glimpses of  our loved ones state of mind. We can “know” without “knowing.” I think that is what happened to Aunt Nan. Although her mind was locked up somehow love held the key which let her know that J was gone and she had to go too. She really had no other reason to “live” for her one true love was gone.

So to Aunt Nan and Uncle J… I send you my love. I thank you for your kind words and advice. I appreciate the things you taught me and I thank you, Uncle J, for saving my sister’s life. My greatest hope for the two of you is that there is a swimming pool you can frolic in throughout eternity and that your undying love for one another and your family remain strong.

 

Magical Places

I am fortunate. I have been to many magical places in my life. I have visited the hot thermal waters coming out of the ground at an ocean front setting in Greece. I have seen the birth of my grandson. I have sat on a hilltop in a field of flowers overlooking the Sierra mountains and watched magnificent sunset of reds, yellows ,and brilliant oranges. Yes, I have been blessed many times over to have experienced some truly exceptional moments in my life.

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Magical places for me provide opportunities to connect with myself and others. I realized that when I inventoried all those magical moments they have not been solitary. For me, they are shared moments/places in which we get a glimpse of our own awe reflected in the faces of those we love which serve to bond us tighter as we witness something truly spectacular. They are those moments which become shared stories in which the words, “Remember when…” are uttered for decades to come. They are the times, after you are gone, that your children tell their children about and their children do the same. Although they may not come often when they do that we really sit up and take notice and discover through them, what is important to our souls.

Magical moments are the heartbeats of the universe. We all experience them at one time or another and the sense of discovery and wonderment is what binds us together as human beings. They connect and transform. They provide a way to shared experience and give us a way to say, “I know what you mean” even amongst people half-way across the world from one another. We may not have even see the same thing but somehow the feelings brought about from what we have each observed can build a bridge over which we can both traverse. Magic indeed.

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Magical moments sometimes arrive on their own out of the blue. For me, they are the best because they are spontaneous and unplanned. But often, I think that we have to create these occasions ourselves. We have to be open to trying new things and stepping out of our comfort zone to make them happen. We have to take a path untried. But mostly, we just have to open our eyes and recognize the beauty in what we are seeing and  celebrate it. And when we do this, somehow the magic just takes over. For its a choice we make to appreciate what is in front of us and to celebrate the beauty of those moments that forever imprint themselves on our lives.

 

 

Stars

So today I was determined to climb out on the roof again to paint the second coat on the shutters. As I was pulling the heavy wood and metal blinds up, they slid out of their holders and put a dent in my head. I immediatley became nauseous, got a terrific headache… the likes of which I have never felt before… and I saw stars. The kind of stars that circle around the head of  Daffy Duck or any Looney Tunes character who has had the unfortunate experience of being hit on the noggin.

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I spent the majority of the day in bed popping aspirin, groaning, and trying to remember if my DO NOT RESUSCITATE orders were on file at the local hospital… just in case.

Stars are  usually a glorious thing. When shining brilliantly at night they light our way to uncharted places. They remind us that there is something other than ourselves taking up space in the cosmos. They sprinkle the sky and our minds with hope when we wish upon them and they let us see history in its making. I still get amazed when I think that I can look back in history 20 million years just by viewing a star.

Stars have tremendous significance in our culture. We aspire to be stars in our own field of work and some aspire to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. We shoot for the stars, they mysteriously fall from the sky, and sometimes, if you are very lucky, even love is written in them. Stars really are an unpredictable and incredible creation.

Sometimes as I walk this journey through Mid-Life and through a “maybe” divorce I look to the stars for answers. I look up and see both the shadows and light which seems to mimic the course my life is taking now. I realize that looking to the stars for answers sounds like something out of a child’s fairy tale. Comforting. Magical. And perhaps that is all it really is..one big illusion. Yet, I would like to think that the stars are lighting up and guiding me to the possibilities that lie within me…freeing me… from those black spaces so that I might get my sparkle back and shine brightly once more. And thinking this way gives me hope that someday I can be my own beacon for my children and that they might look at that light radiating outwards from me to help them find their own place in this world…wherever that may be.

Spied Upon In Tibet

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In the good old US of A we take for granted that our private conversations are just that…private. Sure we know (thanks to Edward Snowden) that our government spied on European Leaders such as Angela Merkel but as a whole somehow we believe that for the most part if we aren’t doing anything “wrong” our government will leave us alone. The sense of freedom we feel on a daily basis because of these beliefs is part of what we count on to live lives fairly free from worry and in a state of blessedness. That is the beauty of freedom. It provides opportunity, power, privilege and latitude based on our own accord.

I didn’t really realize how much this was missing in Tibet until I met a woman from Australia at our guest house. As we talked she cautioned us about asking questions that would put our guides in harms way. Seems all the tourist buses/cars were equipped with cameras and microphones to record our conversations and indeed when I sat down in our small 10 passenger bus there they were in plain view. They served as a visual warning that all we said and all we might do could have repercussions for both our driver/guide as well as ourselves. That is a sobering feeling for someone used to a sense of freedom that permeates her daily life. More sobering was the fact that I could be responsible for a native Tibetan spending time in jail if I inadvertently did something to put them at risk.

I was told by this woman that many of the people I would meet while in Tibet had been arrested by the Chinese government. That Tibetans were essentially forbidden to discuss the exiled Dalai Lama, the past uprisings against the Chinese as Tibetans tried to preserve and protect their culture/country and they were to hold their tongues about the current state of affairs in their occupied lands.

“Why don’t they fight back against those that they see as their oppressors?” I silently wondered.

There was an obvious answer of course. The Tibetans are a peaceful people who are outnumbered, have no weapons and as a result of Chinese re-settlement of native Chinese to the area; they are dwindling in numbers. But it was the not-so obvious answer that was the most compelling. Tibetans believe that due to the indiscretions of a past Dalai Lama that their nation is paying the price for his actions that occurred centuries ago. Karmic law evident and played out to the max. And so they wait. Believing that things may change or may not but it is their duty to pay the price of those that came before them. That this occupation that is distasteful/disrespectful and limiting to them is just the way it is and must be.

Another glaring difference in regards to personal freedom soon became evident as we traveled from place to place. This difference came in the form of check points. Sometimes we would get out at a check point while at others our guide would disembark to show our travel permits and passports. Often, we had to stop and wait for several minutes at the side of the road a mile before the checkpoint to ensure that we did not arrive too early. While the “official” version of these checkpoints were that they served to keep vehicles from going over the speed limit, hence the wait; in fact to me it felt as though the government was keeping track of where everyone was at all times and to ensure that people were not trying to escape over the mountains to distant lands or to incite action against Chinese authority.

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It has been “interesting” ( a poor choice of word) to experience this lack of freedom; this silent and debilitating way of life for so many. I didn’t feel it in China as a whole because it is much less obvious than in Tibet. But for the natives of this mountainous land it must be wearying, disheartening, bleak and daunting to lose something so precious and so valuable. To live in fear of discovery because your thoughts do not match those of the official party line must be mournful to the soul and to have others determine if you can reach your full potential is distasteful to say the least. But most of all, for me, it is a silent reminder that those of us who “experience freedom” on a daily basis have an obligation to ensure this sense of opportunity for generations to come and when we see individuals who wish to limit the lives of others that we do our best to make sure that their rise to power is thwarted. I only hope that my fellow Americans recognize this when they take to the polls in the coming weeks.

Another Great Love…291 Days To Fix This

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One of my absolute favorite ways to pass the time is to steal away into my “time capsule” and visit the lives of my ancestors. I rummage through boxes of old family heirlooms, search on-line for records and read stories concerning the past princes and paupers who were my grandparents as far back as 28 generations ago. Every find is precious to me and every story a best-seller in my mind.

Recently, I have been transcribing letters from my GG Grandmother to her cousin who was serving in the Civil War in 1864. He would write to her and she would reply back and so my family has this treasure trove of correspondence during those very difficult times. In the end, cousin Niles died while serving in the war. Not of a bullet or bayonet but of typhoid fever. Dead at age 24 years. Single. Alone with no wife and no children to mourn his passing. And I would never had known about him if not for these letters. His writings tell much about what kind of person he was and what was of value to him and what got his goat. And as I sift through these letters I have come to realize that things really haven’t changed all that much in the past 151 years. Sure we have electricity, internet and automobiles now but the basics of what we need to sustain our soul are the same.

We all want the basic of better lives for our children. We want food on the table, peace on earth, and someone to enjoy the simple things in life with. We desire to be able to help our neighbor and know there is someone to help us back. We still enjoy a loaf of home-made bread, a good supper of home-grown veggies and a “howdy” from our loved ones so we know they are thinking of us. We still need friends to laugh and cry with, one good listener to tell our troubles to, and some cheap entertainment to make us laugh. Still others look towards something bigger than themselves to help inspire them to do better and offer guidance as to how to life a meaningful life.

Lately, in an effort to put my head in harmony with my soul I have been making many changes. One of the simpler changes I have made in my life is that I am attempting to make the essence of who I am known to my grandchildren. I bought each a fancy box and I am sending genuine hand-written letters to each talking about the day, my hopes and dreams for them and the headlines that fill the airwaves. I want something for them to remember me by. Something personal. Something real. But most of all, I hope they feel my love for them through my words. Because, truly in the end, NOTHING IS REAL BUT LOVE and I want them to have something to show for it, now and in another 151 years.