These days, you can’t help but be bombarded with how different we are from each other. My last blog post was a perfect example. Different views. Different sexes, Different realities. While I acknowledge that all that is true and relevant, I’m also starting to think that we (all of us) are missing the big picture. There are divisions certainly; but there are things we share – as human beings who are living in this time, in this space, on this planet.
Once I started to think along these lines I was able to come up with ten (I’m sure there are more, add yours in the comments if you like) things that all human beings share.
- We are alive, with consciousness, emotions and awareness
- We have the capacity to love, whether it’s our children, our career, our pets, our friends and family, our nation
- We want to be loved by others
- We are afraid of the unexpected or unknown
- We get anxious when our views or life circumstances are challenged or threatened in some way
- We know we can die and that Death has its own time and place beyond our control
- We grieve a loss
- We desire the respect of others and freedom to express ourselves
- We need sustanence, shelter, medicine and companship to survive
- We are products of our environment, good or bad, and are influenced by this throughout our lives
Just a start I know, but it has me thinking that maybe the time has come for us (all of us) not to be so charged up about of differences and focus more on what we have in common. All mothers ache for poor children. A man who is working two or more jobs and still can’t make it is just as worried about his family as the man who is working one job but is aware it can disappear at any time.
Commonalities unite us. Differences divide.
Two years ago today my own personal nightmare began with my Mother’s dearth. A terrible, torturous end to a decades long battle with ovarian cancer. No matter how old you are, what your relationship might have been, this loss leaves you feeling like an orphan, your life turned upside down, your emotions in an uproar. All of us only have one mother, once she’s gone there’s a hole in your life that cannot be filled by any other being.
Of course I knew, on that day and all the ones to follow, the task left to me was impossible.
With his partner in life gone, I watched my strong, silent father heartily mourn the woman he’d loved for most of his lifetime — 50+ years — the bright-eyed blonde girl in the yellow dress. Holidays were now a lingering torture of memories and unwelcome changes. The house they’d loved became a lonely place, devoid of her silly songs and happy little ways. She was the woman who changed the course of his life. He was the man who made hers.
Like the Paul Simon song says, “When I think back on all the crap I leaned in high school, It’s a wonder I can think at all.”
With my last child slogging his way through high school and questioning why he needs to learn some of these things, I find myself wondering. how much of what I was taught in those days has stood the test of time?
Wow, when you start to list it out, it really was a lot of crap. The real learning didn’t start until college. I remember on the day I graduated I was sure I’d never have to study, my learning days were behind me, except they weren’t. Far from it.
I’ve learned more since I left that building than I ever did inside it.
Makes me wonder how much of what my own children were taught in those hallowed halls of high school might one day (maybe soon) be proven untrue, be labelled crap.
It’s as true today as ever. Thank you and a holiday is not nearly enough to compensate veterans for what they’ve done for all of us.
It’s hard to imagine a circumstance where “thank you” is both so well deserved and so utterly inadequate at the same time. Except when it comes to veterans, the courageous, selfless souls who fight our wars. Agree or not, ready or not, part of their own life plan or not, they go.
I had uncles and a father in law who were such men, a father served back home when he was young, as all men in those days did. It’s hard to imagine how they did it. How scared they must have been.They’d lived in one place their whole lives and were briefly trained before being sent to places as far-flung from home as could be.
What I know of my uncle’s story I learned from others. He was a radio man in the Air Force whose plane was shot down somewhere over Italy. My uncle parachuted from the plane, got stuck in a tree as he landed and watched as Italian civilians ran toward him screaming words he didn’t understand. Turns out they were farmers who had seen him and got him hidden away before he could be found. He stayed hidden for many months until the family was able to arrange for him to be smuggled out of the country and back to safety. I don’t know names or dates, but I’m grateful to those people every day.
Nobody likes farewells. Sudden ones, or ones you see coming.
I remember the first time someone close to me passed from this life, I was lucky enough to be college age. And I remember thinking how strange it was that the world went on undisturbed while my world had been stopped, shattered and turned on its head.
More experience has brought no wisdom, no magic words. It hurts as much today as it did then, the sudden ripping of one person from your life. You didn’t see it coming, you could do nothing to change or prevent it, awareness and mourning are all you get.
I hate it now as I did then, I rage now as I did then.
It’s a debate that will likely never be settled. The so-called “battle of the sexes” is one of those pointless arguments that will go on forever. The argument has gained new life now that a woman is running for the highest office in the land.
My observations, for what (little) they’re worth. (more…)
They are my business, my pleasure and passion since my early teens, but even I can choose the wrong one. It’s easy to forget that something so simple, so swiftly and thoughtlessly typed, can have an impact in a way you never imagined.
Words must be used, and chosen, with special care. Never forget this.
It was just shy of 60 years ago on an ordinary Monday in June; when this boy was asked to give a ride to this girl. Neighbors on Cook Street who had yet to meet, the boy’s father Michael made the offer as a neighborly thing to do for the teenage daughter of Alice, the widow who lived next door. A ride to an after school function. A quick stop for his eldest son, the only one with a driver’s license and a car that he knew. A few minutes of a college boy’s time. Nothing out of his way. You see, people did these small kindnesses for each other then. Simpler days.
The boy groaned at the thought. What would he say to a silly little high school girl? The girl was thinking only about getting to the function she was to attend, the friends waiting. Until she took her seat in that car beside him. They talked, awkward at first. They laughed, and before they knew it the ride had come to an end. Those few minutes had changed everything for the whip-smart college boy who dreamed of freedom and travel and the startlingly pretty blue-eyed girl who had always been too smart and outspoken for her own good. She was unlike any other girl he’d ever known.
He was smitten. She broke up with her high school athlete boyfriend that afternoon. Her friends were aghast, but she knew what she wanted and she never looked back.
Radical concept, isn’t it?
Imagine considering doing something dangerous and being so comfortable and confident in your own ability that the possibility of your own death doesn’t occur to you. Death isn’t even on the radar. It doesn’t get any more thought than what to have for lunch. This is the remarkable mindset of extreme athletes.
Fear is just part of the package. It doesn’t stop them.
To the more timid among us (that’s me) that kind of daring is astonishing. Totally alien. Not that I’m worrying about my own mortality any more than the next person (okay, slightly more); but to be so casual and unruffled in the face of life and death danger is beyond anything I’ll ever achieve. It’s what makes dare devils, thrill seekers and adventurers the incredible people they are.
It’s what makes them exceptional.
My daily brain expander, Next Draft, recently had a piece on the psychology of extreme athletes, brought to the fore by the sudden death of well known climber Dean Potter (who died BASE-jumping at Yosemite). For those who have spent decades studying the more daring among us, they find a very real difference in the mindset of these daring souls. They call it a Life Wish. Extreme athletes don’t want to die. They don’t expect to die. At the edge of danger is when they feel most alive.
They also share admirable traits like optimism, energy, self confidence, focus, drive and the belief they can be the master of Fate.
If you think about it, there was a time when life was a lot riskier than it is today. Our modern world has removed most of them (unless you count rush hour traffic or trips to the supermarket before a blizzard) so now the more adventurous have to go and find them.
When I saw this making the rounds on the book of face recently I was amazed. For so much of my life mental struggles such as anxiety and depression were not mentioned, much less proudly boasted to everyone you know. Nobody used the term panic attack, and these horrible, hateful episodes were certainly not something people recognized or understood.
Times have changed.
Now we can say it. Show it. Talk about it.