Monday, December 17, 2012

On the current state of the world royally sucking

In memory of Commander William R. Hand, as well as those who were lost in Newton, CT.  
**I wrote this post in two sittings, a week apart from one another.  I thought the ideas ended up coming together well, but I'll forgive you if you disagree.**

Life is short, (fill in the blank).  Sometimes I feel like my head will pop off from the sheer volume of ideas I have for filling in that blank.  What to do with my life, what to do when I grow up, what to do with my weekend, what to do after dinner. It's completely overwhelming if you think about it too much.  Every once in awhile, I look around and think that everyone else in the world is clearly much happier, funnier, prettier, wealthier, skinnier, more successful, more relaxed, etc. etc. etc. than I am.  Ok.  I think that more than once in awhile.  It's pretty easy to do, you know?  Be petty, forget about all of the good things that you have right in front of you, and all around you, and inside of you, and focus on what you don't have.  

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel"

I found this quote, and couldn't help but think about all of the Facebook posts, and tweets, and Instagrams that people (me included) post every day about the great movie they're going to, or the awesome meal they're making, or their flowers they got/new shoes/job promotion/kitten/baby/wedding.  How many people are out there posting about how they burned dinner, didn't meet their deadline, had a fight with their husband, are sleep deprived because of their baby, or didn't get a second date?  We are only seeing their highlight reel.  

I've been working on focusing on being present in everything that I do in my life.  Normally, I'd roll my eyes at anyone that told me to "be present in the moment," but in light of some pretty heavy, awful stuff that's been happening in my world and yours, I'm pretty much willing to try anything to keep myself focused on what doesn't currently make me want to cry.  Even last night at the concert we went to, a member of the band the Lumineers literally implored the hundreds of millenials, with our collective need to Instagram, Facebook and Tweet every waking moment of our lives, to "put away your phones and just be present."  I tried not to smack the phone out of hand of the teenager in front of me who continued to record and take pictures for the entire concert.  Instead I felt sad that she was missing one of the best live shows I'd ever been to.  I was struck by the irony of trying to record memories.  She ended up just watching the concert on a screen.  

That being said, I would be lying if I said that I WANTED to be fully present in every moment of my life.  I definitely wanted to be anywhere but in the here and now when I heard about Newton on Friday.  I thought about the many lockdown drills I'd done with my own students during my years as a teacher; the nightmares I had for months after Columbine when I was in high school myself.  In the moment when I saw the first news about the shootings, that familiar feeling of dread in my stomach and pain in my heart hit.  Hard.  I did not want to be present; I wanted to hide from the world under some blankets with my favorite bear, and pretend like I never learned that the world is not what it seems when you're 6 years old.

That same feeling struck me again tonight when I clicked on the P Blog to read Curtis' daily update on Lizbeth.  Oh how I wish I could unclick.  I do not want to be a part of the present right now. I want to rewind to two years ago in December, when Lizbeth invited me over to her house to decorate for Christmas.  She takes decorating very seriously, and has wonderful taste.  She had the most beautiful decorations, including a tiny tree out by the front door that I thought was the sweetest thing.  I remember thinking that I was so busy and so stressed out about school, and I really just didn't have time to be there.  In spite of my best, most selfish efforts to not live in that moment, that will always be one of my most special memories with Lizbeth.  It was not documented on Twitter, and I didn't post a status update about it.  That memory is stored in my heart and my mind where it will stay.  

I know that many of you who read this also feel overwhelmed by the bombardment of sad news from every direction.  Today, I'm giving myself permission to be sad.  I won't try to pretend like things are ok, and I won't even try to comfort myself too much with thoughts of all of the good in the world (yes, I know it's out there).  And if you need to be sad for today, I'm pointing at you and giving you permission as well.  

I always thought it was a load of crap when I heard at funerals or memorials, "so and so wouldn't want you to be sad."  As long as I'm being sad today, I'm also going to be selfish and say that I DO want SOMEONE to be sad when I'm gone.  If you're sad, that means you've experienced loss.  It is normal.  It is right.  If you're not sad, then there was no loss of that person's love, their laughter, their spirit, their kindness.*  I better damn well be a loss to someone.  I'm trying really, really hard to make it so someone is sad when I'm gone.  

So today, please allow yourself to be sad for what you've lost.  Or what you know to be unfair.  Or the suffering that you wish others were not going through.  

Tomorrow I will focus on new babies, and heroism, and the love of family, and the holiday spirit.  For tonight, I'm going to cuddle up under a blanket, read a book, and let my sadness hang out for a bit.  But just a bit.  

Peace and love, 


*Just so we're clear, sadness comes at different times and in different forms for every person.   I never mean to offend.