Tag Archives: human spirit

A Man Walked Toward Me, Stumbling…

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I message with my mother pretty much every day. Since she is on the East Coast and I am in New Mexico, messaging is a way to constantly check in, make sure all’s well. When I receive a message from her, my phone sends me a notification that usually includes the first line of text. The title of this blog post is from one of those notifications.

Most of the time things we receive don’t grab our interest. Obviously, this one made me curious and had the same effect on you, Dear Reader, or you [likely] wouldn’t have bothered to click on this post. I won’t tell you how her story ended. It isn’t important. What is important, at least to me, is our reaction and awareness.

Are we so desensitized that we need shock value to register a response?

I’m desperate to grab your attention. I am not a ‘master blogger’ by any stretch of the imagination. I do my best to write honestly about topics I find interesting or important in the hope I can connect with people I’d never get the opportunity to meet in person. I am not out to make a buck. I am not looking to build an empire of ‘likes’. I am keenly aware that I am one small fish in a very large ocean. I merely make these attempts (blogs & visual art) to send a signal into the abyss with the hope of experiencing a camaraderie with others who also appreciate and identify small, profound aspects of the human condition.

Yet, for all my effort real connection is rare…

Why? We have grown impatient and shallow. We have less free time than ever before and we are bombarded with empty media content all day, every day. Everything is at our fingertips; entertainment, world news, goods & services. We don’t have to be seekers anymore, we’re only digesters. Hunter gatherers had to seek out food & water, shelter, companionship. Now, most of the world sits fingering device screens, digesting a steady stream of…well…dare I say it?…garbage. Content void of nourishing substance. Connection requires too much energy and time. We’re too busy. Too busy being dumbed down, and enjoying it.

I hate that this sounds so pessimistic, but truth is truth and it sets us free. Generically speaking, it’s true that there is a lot of good in the world, but it’s really rare for people to truly connect with other people these days and we are suffering for it. The power of touch, eye contact, and face-to-face communication has been steadily replaced by 1-minute virals and shock value. It saddens me in ways I cannot begin to describe. Social media is not connection. Most of it isn’t even real. It’s a lie, hollow and deceptive. Most media content delivers a false sense of belonging, connection, and happiness, aspects of life critical to the human experience. The eyes see, the brain digests, and over time people end up feeling more and more detached and inferior. What it offers is simple & tasty: something fast and easy that doesn’t require more from us than we’re willing to give. In contrast, relationships take time and effort.

Fleeting moments of kindness and sacrifice are nice, but they cannot provide longterm mental and emotional sustenance. It’s like taking a supplement in lieu of eating healthy food…the body can go a little while but eventually sickens and dies. We need to engage to nourishtouch more, love more, see more, experience more, be more…not just for ourselves, but for others. Seeking active engagement with others enriches the human experience. It exposes us to a variety of situations, confrontations, and conversations that prompt greater creativity, compassion, and wisdom. Engaging with others enlightens us and teaches us more about ourselves. In turn, we have the opportunity to enrich the lives of others with increased positivity and hope. Even the little things will take on a significance that blows the mind and enhances the senses. We need each other. There is no supplement or replacement therapy for human connection.

Are you there, Dear Reader?? I devote my time to this blog in the spirit of hope that you are there, and you care. Catch someone’s eye today, Dear Reader. Meet their gaze and engage. You won’t regret it and it’ll be time well spent. Rock on…

Please listen to your flight attendant….

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Before every plane ride, the cramped individuals of the cabin are always treated to the preflight safety instructions.  They’re always the same; the flight attendant walks us through what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.  If you’ve flown more than once, it’s more likely you will be fumbling with your tiny airplane pillow or an electronic device, rather than listening to this standard briefing.  But I’ve chosen it as a blog topic for good reason.  There is actually a really great bit of advice to be found, metaphorically, within the mundane instruction.

Included in preflight safety instructions is what to do if cabin pressure changes.  When cabin pressure changes on an airline, it triggers the emergency oxygen masks to drop from overhead each passenger.  The instructions given for what to do when the masks dropped always perplexed me when I was younger.  The flight attendant tells the passengers that they must ‘first secure their own mask, before placing a mask on their child’.

I always used to think that seemed a bit selfish.  I mean, isn’t the first instinct of a parent to run to the aid of their child, without regard for themselves?  That seems right…save the child first.

Then, I had children.  And now I see the wisdom in the words.  I think it’s natural, especially for women, to forget your own needs.  We get good at putting ourselves on the back burner for others.  Anything else seems selfish.  After all, taking time for yourself is frowned on, because the perception is that by making time for yourself, you are taking it away from someone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason the flight attendant insists on putting your mask on first is so you can take care of your child.  Without that mask, and the oxygen it provides, you will lose consciousness while trying to help your child.  The result is a child left without a parent to care for them, without protection, and in grave danger.  The metaphor is pretty powerful; if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly hope to be present to truly provide the care those you love really need.

This week, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of drug overdose in his New York City apartment.  Alone.  On the bathroom floor.  I can think of few, more sadly preventable ways to die.  Police found 40 bags of heroine in his apartment, and he was found only because he failed to pick up his three young children as promised that day.  Please don’t interpret any anger on my part as being aimed at Mr. Hoffman.  I hate addiction, not the addicted.  Mr. Hoffman, a beautiful, talented human being, filled with the same potentiality for life that every human being possesses, chose in a moment of emptiness to believe the lie of addiction.  It is a lie which says that something other than living and being ever-present in your life is somehow better in a given moment.  It says there is no truth in human pain and suffering, nothing to be learned.  It insists pain simply be eradicated, even if only as a temporary reprieve.  But in truth, addiction is pain.  It is a thief that robs life and replaces it with more and more hollow emptiness.  Numbness replaces presence.  Game over…

Addiction allows us to play the victim.  It hides the ability and free will of the human spirit which empower all good practice and positive thought.  Addiction is the lie, because we are not victims to anything but our own minds.  We live our choices.  No one chooses to be an addict, but we do choose to do the things that set addiction in motion.  Life is a powerful experience that merits responsibility for identifying what is best and discerning what is good and right in our lives.  Life is precious and fragile…so respect the journey.

So please, listen to your flight attendant.  Take care of yourself first.  Feed yourself full to the top with good things, so you can be ready and able to be there for all those other human beings you love so much  🙂

*image provided by: http://williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/2013/07/addiction-recovery-southwest-florida.html