It's Saturday morning and I'm feeling.
Truly, I was thinking, how do I open this little post? I woke up early, the sun is shining, I blended up a green smoothie and sat down to think.
I used to write about feeling a lot. Well in some regard. Often it was more under the guise of creative writing, a strange poetic self expression, but truly, that's how I got all the stuff out of my head.
A few years ago I wrote a little piece about New Year's reflections. I noted my intention to:
Reflect deeply * Create resolve * Be resolute
"All of those things seem like great starts to me, however "reflecting" is really my term for a momentary breakdown. And for the most part I don't think a little breakdown is a bad thing. When those breakdowns show up for me the fastest way to move past them is to take that same part of my brain that's making me feel a little crazy and engage it in something beautiful."
Since then I've expanded on that strategy.
Backing up: I attended a series of workshops last year - the content was specific to creating your own future... how to live an extraordinary life... things of that sort of subject matter. It was a bit out there. However, it took. In that, I made a conscious decision to avoid placing blame... to stay out of word battles, to understand the stories we tell ourselves, and to take personal responsibility and move along.
Those workshops changed my brain. Why am I sharing this? In the state of the world right now we're all being slammed. There's no getting around it.
And, sometimes it feels literally so...
with messages and blasts that perhaps are intended to tumble into the abyss but instead land on us, it can be extraordinarily painful.
My Grandfather (in an email to me yesterday put it this way):
The phases we recently heard “America First” or “Lock Her Up” repeated do not reveal the personal concerns of the shouter. It also gives the utterer group (crowd/mob) protection. An open discussion within a closed group in most instances is a learning opportunity. You can ask why they feel that way. Often times that moves them from the three or four word political slogans to how they personally are concerned. They may disclose why they are afraid of impending change.
I'd written to him to ask his advice. It was sparked from the same situation that many of us are likely experiencing. It was this:
(and I'll preface - I am not someone that likes to get into controversial conversations on the internet... definitely not on Facebook, nor on Twitter or Instagram either. Those of you guys that have been in this space with me for a while likely know that about me.)
Lately, I've shared some things, with an intention of keeping the messages love filled... for example, I shared a piece on how to help the Native Americans out at Standing Rock, and I shared how to dial a senator if you're upset about a Presidential appointee...
And even in those cases - there's a few folks that come out of the woodwork to digital media "yell".
You know it: lots of "!!!" or maybe it's a "???" and all caps - they're demanding that you listen to them.
The thing that happened felt strange. I didn't realize I was asking for an internet argument. We're all seeing this happen over and over again right? Two of my closest people have decided to delete Facebook because of it.
I have a family member that distanced themselves from me years and years ago. It hurt tremendously then, however I became stronger for it. A few holiday seasons ago we reconnected for the first time in 5 + years and it's been a slow walk back to a relationship.
However, lately, she's engaging with me on the internet. And it's not what she's saying that hurts, it's what she's not saying. It's the fact that she's not interested in other parts of my life... my work, my friends, my dreams and goals ... I'm not even sure she knows what I do for a living or that I moved 6 months ago... she's never met my partner of 2 years... So whyyyyy in the world does she care to talk to me about this stuff? That's what feels bad.
I invited her to an "off line" conversation (as I often do)... She still wasn't interested in sharing our lives, just in making sure I understand her views. Alas.
Here's a quote from John Wooden: "surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you." I've been thinking about this a bit differently: how about surrounding yourself with great reads from the minds of people that did just that type of arguing but in a respectful way. Or, have a dinner party with folks of a variety of mindsets with active conversation that is born from a commitment of care for those within the conversation.
I share all of that with you guys because it's on us to create those conversations and connections that boost our empathy and personal well-being.
I also share it as a reminder - let's be mindful in our communication. We're all feeling what's happening in the world, and for most of us it feels awful. However, yelling into the internet ether likely won't create compassion.
Btw - I included this post in the "Beauty" column of Oui We because, truly, if we aren't feeling our best, and aren't taking good care of each other, we can't be our most beautiful selves.
Ok, moving along. I've got book edits to attend to, and Ben and I are going for a jog (a new thing we're doing, cheer me on pleeaaasssseeee.)
Let me know what you think about all of this. How are you coping? Who's inspiring you to keep your sanity in check?
Much love you guys.
opening photo by Ben Alleman, shot in 35mm