Build windmills, not walls, when the wind blows | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I was at the supermarket the other day when I overheard a conversation on the other side of my aisle.  A young voice was berating an adult for not being done with shopping.


“You KNEW I had plans. And why can’t the car take me?”


“The list is long and gas is expensive,” the adult replied.


There was whining, cajoling, even a little begging before the tone turned belligerent, ugly.


Unable to resist, I took a peek and saw a teenager, wearing a uniform from an exclusive school, having a tantrum while her mother calmly continued choosing pasta. The colegiala was obviously not getting her way.


Things did not get better when her mother tore the list in half and said: “Here, honey! Why don’t you do this half so we can go faster.” The child was livid.


I fought the urge to shake the mother’s hand.


Are we like kids?


How do we behave when our plans don’t pan out?  Do we throw a fit? I have seen many adults “lose it” when their best-laid ideas misfire.


Why can’t we just take events as they unfold?


Many of us start our journey on high horses, our heads up and our pace confident.  We are sure of what we want and know where we are going. Then something happens. There’s a pothole. The horse bucks. We are thrown off. Panic. What happened?


Many of us must think we are like God who sees the end from the beginning.  I hate to break it to you, folks, but we don’t.  We can’t.  And so we stumble along.


Life is not easy. It is full of sudden obstacles and convoluted detours.


It takes guts to get back in the saddle. It requires us to first get back on our feet, dust the dirt off and swallow our wounded pride.


The bumps along the way should not hinder our race, but help propel us to the next step, and fuel us up, recharged and ready for battle.


Like a Chinese proverb says: “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls.  Others build windmills.”


Which one are you?


I have been both.  At this stage of my life, I am still tearing down remnants of walls that I once built in anger and frustration. But it’s a new day, and I have discovered there’s a path that beckons up ahead.


It has taken me years to find out that we can’t live life by the seat of our pants. We need a blueprint. Mine is the Bible.  It is never too late, and one is never too old to get back on the straight and narrow.


After many hard knocks, I have learned that just when you think there is no way out, another step forward is all you need to take.  Breakthrough often waits for you just around the corner.  It is sad that for some, that bend seems too far, too difficult.  It takes courage to continue.


It does not help to hear voices of doom and gloom on the side of the road from people who, instead of cheering you on, pronounce their ghastly verdict, and count you down and out.


These naysayers are on TV, the radio, and all over media.  Just try to do something right and see how quickly they pounce on you, telling you how wrong you are.


I used to be one of them, always looking at the negative side. Not anymore. Today I rush out to encourage my fellow travelers. And I applaud joyfully when they get to the finish line.


About justice


Watching the news on television can be a harrowing experience.  In Houston, Texas, a man randomly killed half a dozen children because he “could not deal with the realities of life.”


Here at home, because of horror stories, I worry when I see people “riding in tandem” cruising alongside my car. Their helmets, required by law, provide a perfect disguise!


Life is cheap. It isn’t like we don’t punish the guilty. Well, we try. Families of the victims cry for justice. But the lady with the blindfold seems not to hear.


By the way, it was sad to read about the sick and elderly inmates languishing, some for decades, in jail cells not fit for humans. Is something being done?


I remember years ago I was on an early morning drive with flamboyant lawyer Gerry Spence and his high-profile client, headed for “The Today Show” on NBC.


Wearing his famous cowboy hat, Spence was deep in thought, gazing out the car window at the passing scene of a not-quite-awake Manhattan.


Pointing at a homeless woman sleeping on the sidewalk, he asked me: “Do you think there is justice for her?” I was flustered.  The scene was familiar. I always thought about what they did for food or if they had family.  But justice?


I asked him: “Is there?”  He shook his head. “None, unfortunately.” It was quiet in the limo.


I have not read any of his books. But I did pick up a blurb about “With Justice for None” which he was writing at the time.


Of Spence, it says: “(He) provides a penetrating, passionate look at the American justice system. His message is urgent and provocative: American citizens without wealth or power will rarely receive justice.’”


Amazing, isn’t it?  The American Pledge of Allegiance says “with liberty and justice for all.”


I believe this sorry situation has nothing to do with being American or Filipino. It is not a matter of nationality.


Is it then perhaps just the human condition? How sad.