Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 12

Last night I was at home. The opening match of the World Cup was on and I decided to watch it. My wife had plans with some of her colleagues, so it was just me and my dog. I'm alright with nights like this. After being married for awhile you come to appreciate a silent moment when it happens upon you. The game was typically boring and since I don't really care too much for either team (South Africa v. Mexico), I decided to jazz the ambiance up with some tunes. 

I wasn't sure what I wanted to listen to. I think I'm on the tail-end of yet another big Dead binge these days, so  perhaps something else would be in order. Maybe Talking Heads? Nah, they're not great to listen to alone. How about Country Joe? Maybe, but if I got into that, then I'd be listening to Richie Havens in no time. I have thousands of songs illegally downloaded on my desktop for moments just like this. I continued to search and eventually landed on Michael Jackson. It's safe and pretty much goes with everything. I created a playlist, turned the vuvezela music (otherwise known as the World Cup broadcast) off and grabbed a book. 

The mood was fine, but MJ and Dostoyevsky just don't mix. A stolen childhood just doesn't stack up against a katorga prison camp. I put the book down and did some thinking. (Did you know that closet air is the best for thinking? Classic line at the 5:00 mark. ) That, of course, led to some silent meditation. You might be wondering how mediation as a Quaker is different from meditation as a Buddhist. Ostensibly, there is very little. Buddhists typically cross their legs and make a circular connection with their hands. There's more of mind-body-soul thing happening. With Quakers, there's no such connection. Rather, the time is used for reflection of ones own deeds and their relationship with God. Since I'm still on unclear terms with God, I use this time to focus on my own deeds and role on this earth. 

This time, however, I couldn't get the Michael Jackson song "Bad" out of my head. After many failed attempts, I just went with it and eventually landed on a pleasant moment that turned out to be a teachable one. Isn't that was this is all about anyways?

As a child, my sister and I were pretty close. Sure, I would occasionally steal her stuff or tell secrets about her at our school, but most of the time it was a pretty standard sibling arrangement. I remember telling her friends that she cried every morning while getting ready because she and my mother would argue about her hairstyle. That was true actually. My mother has always been obsessed with haircuts and hair styles. She still is.

So, every once and awhile we would make our own dance routine up and perform it for our parents. It was pretty serious choreography, but the costumes really added the flare that was going to take us to the next level of living room performances. On one particular evening, we were going to be doing a "Bad" routine. For one reason or another, my sister didn't want me dancing this time. She made me her "manager" -a role that I took very seriously. One of my biggest tasks was to introduce her to the audience (of two) and after that introduction I was supposed to gently slap her behind and then go "backstage". 

Well, I did the introduction very well and then it was time for my big slap. A pulled back and let it fly. Unfortunately, the point was not pain and that was just what I offered. My sister yelled at me and then ran upstairs crying. The audience was a little let down but they knew we'd be back in the future. 

These dances were part of my childhood. We planned and performed them and even though it was only for an audience of my parents, it was just as much a concert than if we were performing for thousands. We felt it. It didn't need to be official or anything like that. All it took was a small group to enjoy and, for me at least, that was a very special and important part of my childhood. 

Tomorrow I will be attending my first Quaker Meeting. I don't know what to expect, but I know that it'll be small and quiet. They have unprogrammed meetings where Friends sit in silence and focus on their connection with God. It doesn't matter how many people are there nor does it matter that there is no pastor leading the service. Bigger does not mean better and  the perception of officialism that a pastor offers isn't needed. Just like with my childhood dance routines, if it feels real then it is real. 


  1. Why do I feel like I am always defending myself on these blogs? Haircuts should be neat and tidy and age and station in life appropriate...GEORGE!! Kristin needed my help in the early a.m. in her elementary days with her hair..the tears were of frustration of "bad hair days", I remember. However...the child with the bad hair days for the last, ummmm, 10 years is no other than the Pious there!

  2. Because you're too thin-skinned. My life is my experience. You were the biggest part of that experience for most of this life.

  3. I love it! Yes, I remember our dance performances well. I believe our last official performance was for mom alone in 1998...possibly 1999. It was to the Backstreet Boys. "Everybody"

    They offered that dramatic intro that we could slowly stand up to and then just at the right time jump around toward the front and surprise everybody with our incredible timing. I believe you (and Go) challenged Trey and me to an 80's dance-off while in the Adirondaks a few years ago and then fizzled out on us. Hmmmm. Scared? ;)

  4. My mom and your mom went through the same hair battles. Something passed down from generation to generation, I guess. Something about control and borders, I think.