Hey everyone! Long time no write. LIfe has been a crazy series up downs…and downs…lately and my time and mind have been elsewhere out of necessity. But today, something happened that I think is worth sharing so here goes.
I was in line at Kroger today and I slid in right behind this very frustrated guy who was about to have a verbal duke out with the poor blameless cashier, who appeared to already be having a very difficult day. I observed quietly for a second, and then I felt compelled to intervene. I realize that this is a risky move, especially nowadays but I went for it anyway. I was going to bring some peace to Kroger dang it. I said, ” You know, I think we have all forgotten how to be kind. We have all gotten so frustrated with other stuff and other people that we forget how to be nice to others. ” This stunned them into angry silence for a minute. I boldly went on. “When I had my cancer this year and then my husband had emergency heart surgery soon after I was done with chemo, I realized that there are some battles I just don’t need to fight anymore. I just feel lucky to be above ground. Everything after that is just gravy.” Both men got even quieter and just stared at me. I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. Then, the fighting man asked if he could help me get the stuff from under my cart. I said, “Absolutely! Thanks!” He did. Then he turned to the cashier and said thanks and then went on his way. The cashier thanked me and I noted out of the corner of my eye that everyone was smiling and nodding. I have to admit. That felt really good. I had brought peace to Kroger that day.
You have to ask yourself, why are we all so frustrated? Actually, that is a fairly easy question to answer. Look at all the colossal shit that has happened in all of our worlds lately. We’ve got the ongoing pandemic (depending on which blend of fact and fiction you subscribe to. I am just going to leave that one alone.) We have unemployment issues. We all know someone that has gone through incredible health issues. We have all had ridiculous amounts of financial strain. The list keeps going. It requires no stretch of the imagination to suppose why we are all on edge. The real question to answer now is how are we going to stop it? Are we going to be able to act like logical, sensitive, compassionate humans again once things get better? Or are we so entrenched in the cycle of negativity that we have forgotten how to recognize when things are good? I can understand the negative reactions to negative environments and things that we cannot control. But, I am suggesting that we start trying to remember how to act like civilized rational beings again regardless. Take it slowly at first, deciding to be content with or grateful for some tiny little thing: a single decision that goes your way. Then, go from there. I am just afraid that if we don’t start at least trying now, we won’t be able to do it later. Then, we will have a much bigger problem.
I just heard about the unexpected death of an amazing human today and it really got my wheels spinning. It made me take a step back and re-evaluate my own processing of the world around me lately and really embrace the amount of time that I have wasted with misdirected anger, emotions and the occasional dose of self-pity. I need to stop. It shouldn’t take news like this to shake me out of my own festival of wallowing. I should already know that, whatever potentially exaggerated feelings that I have about what my own life struggles, there is always something worse out there that someone else is going through. I am not saying that I spend an exorbitant amount of time feeling sorry for myself or anything, but really any time is too much time now that I think about it. Have I had some shitty things going on lately? Check. Have I had financial issues like everyone else? Have I had any health issues? Check. But, for all that, I have plenty of things to be grateful for too. I still have a job. I am still above ground. I have great kids and a great husband. I work hard and I get to see the positive effects on patients, etc etc. Like I have said many times over, I need to follow my own advice and break the proverbial chains that tie me to negativity like some sort of prisoner. All they do is hold me back and keep me from recognizing anything good when it happens. So, I am going to make myself a promise and grab those bolt cutters with both hands and make way for positivity. Who’s with me?
Greetings from Michigan, where the shutdowns are back, viral cases are surging, morale is down and the economy is heaving along, the best that it can. Whew! That is both a mouthful and yet another heavy set of burdens for us to bear. What are we going to do? What can we do?…that we aren’t doing already? How are they deciding what to shut down? which schools to close? In the midst of the new resurgence of information overload, in combination with the overwhelming sense of loss of control, everything starts to merge together and nothing really makes sense anymore. With a sense of frustration and a deep need for answers and assertion of control, we start pointing fingers and making enemies and burning bridges right and left. We forget what’s really important anymore because we are so distracted by our unhappiness, our loss of freedoms, and our fog of depression that never seems to lift anymore. What we don’t realize, is that by launching our own attacks and tossing aside what’s familiar and devaluing those around us, we are just perpetuating our own isolation further. We are actually making things worse! If it is community that we truly crave, why fight amongst ourselves and elevate our level of pettiness to historic levels? What is that really doing? How is that supposed to make us feel any better? I have news for you: it isn’t and it won’t. So….stop already! Please! I get that it completely sucks to not be able to see the people you want to see all the time. I get it that we can’t frolic at concerts right now and family gatherings have become but a blip in the rearview. Businesses are struggling and people are at risk of losing their livelihood. I know. I am one of them. Big stuff is at stake. It all seems out of proportion to the actual death rate of this virus, but you and I both now, that we are not privy to all of the information. Therefore I have to believe that the “experts” aren’t just trying to screw us. I just can’t go on thinking like that. I am not talking about being lemmings or sheep, but, we just can’t afford to give in to hate and despair like we are. Nothing good will come of it. I am still hopeful that it is not forever. One thing IS clear in my mind: I know for sure that any of my own potential methods for self-destruction will not make things get any better any faster. I know how hard it is to be positive right now. I am struggling just like everybody else, but you will not see me giving up just yet and I am hoping against hope that you will join me.
Shakespeare had the right idea a long time ago. I think that we have just forgotten it lately. There have been songs and poems written by many about the utter preciousness of life, and yet we still complain bitterly, we forget to notice what we do have, and we have forgotten how to recognize the good.
This also begs the question: Is it really a matter of life being too short, or is it a matter of wasting the time that we have? Seneca once wrote that “it is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievement if it were all well invested.” He also goes on to say that most of us don’t even realize that life is passing us by as we are distracted by greed, poor living, etc and that it is only when death is knocking at our door that we finally “get it,” but then it is too late.
The bottom line is that it is up to us to savor live