Editor’s note: Autumn has the month off, so I’m pinch-hitting for her. Don’t panic. She’ll be right back in this space next month
We’ve all been there.
Sometimes you just need a break.
Things can pile up in life. Kids, school, deadlines, bills, broken down cars, sales goals, spouses, parents, the cracked face on your phone, MONEY, siblings, voice mails, emails, incessant wind pounding outside your bedroom wall, meetings, the 10 o’clock news, the clock that says 3:34 (a.m.), cholesterol, Facebook, a bad haircut…and before you know it, you’re having a complete meltdown because there isn’t enough space on your DVR to record The Americans.
These are tempestuous times. Yes, we live in an age of ease and creature comforts. And supposedly, we know how to take care of ourselves better than ever before. We can order a pizza by talking to our phone, and then get on a treadmill the next morning and know exactly how much time we have to put in to work off the extra piece we probably shouldn’t have eaten.
We use words like “empowerment” and “Namaste.”
We can choose the news we’re getting. If we don’t like what’s happening on the Bad News Channel, we’ll just watch the Good News Channel.
Our culture is becoming more accepting and forgiving. We can marry whomever we fall in love with. Even the chains of gender are beginning to loosen.
Weed is a little more legal than it used to be.
It’s 2017 and we can tailor our surroundings to fit our needs. “They” keep telling us that life is just easier now.
Um… yeah. Not so much.
If we’re really moving towards this Utopian destiny, then how come so many of us feel like shit all the time?
For all the access and information at our fingertips; for all the relaxation methods we can learn; for all the organizational tools we have readily available to us, things don’t really seem to slow down, do they? I mean, sure, you can download a meditation app to your Galaxy S7, but when are you going to find the twenty minutes in your day to actually use the thing?
You just wish the world would give you a break, but it never really seems to do that.
Okay, so this is where I turn the whole column around and get all Namaste on you.
Clichés are clichés for a reason. They get repeated over and over again because, while they might over simplify things, they are (generally) fundamental statements of truth. So, here goes:
Be the change you want to see in the world. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Or, to put it my favorite way, be the person your dog thinks you are.
I know I just lost a bunch of you. If I was reading this instead of writing it, I might have stopped by now, too, depending on what kind of day I was having. But it is a pure fact that the only thing you can control in this world is yourself (and even then, it’s only about 85% of the time.) So, if you’re truly bothered by the state of the world, or the way the world treats you, the best thing you can do is be an example for a better way to go about things.
Be aware of the way you talk to people. Don’t lash out in anger when it isn’t necessary. Don’t embellish your achievements in the hopes of gaining respect. Don’t be self-deprecating when it isn’t necessary. Just be honest. Be gentle. Be kind.
You know, breathe.
Maybe the biggest and best thing you can do for yourself is to not judge other people. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know: you don’t do that.
That’s a load of crap. We all do it. You’re judging me right now for the words I’m writing, just as I’m judging you for rolling your eyes at me. And neither one of us is accomplishing anything of note. We just somehow feel superior for a moment and then we move on.
As we have become more and more plugged in to the world around us, we are truly connecting less and less (that’s another cliché, but another fundamental truth.) I can point a lot of fingers at why this is happening, and as a member of the media, I have to admit that my industry has been guilty of a lot of fear mongering lately, both directly and indirectly, maybe even in this very magazine. But it’s not just “The Media” that’s the problem. It’s conversations you have at work, or alone in your car, or at home with your husband. It’s what you do with the information you’re given. There’s a lot more “us vs. them” and “me vs. you” than there used to be. As things move forward, we seem to be leaving the idea of compassion behind.
But we need compassion now more than ever.
It’s not an easy thing. Compassion requires patience, trust, respect, and a healthy dose of optimism. How much of that can you muster these days?
We have to try, though.
We have to count on each other and we have to trust each other. In a world where the only thing we can control is ourselves, we need a whole lot of faith to make it through the day. The best way to find that is to reward someone else’s faith in us. The only way we’re going to find trust and respect is by treating everyone else with trust and respect. We have to be good to each other. We have to find some understanding. We have to be loyal to each other. And if you can’t do that, then maybe just fake it for a while and hope it pays off.
I know exactly how this sounds. I’m as cynical as you are these days; maybe more. But, to use another cliché, I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I need a break, so I’m reaching out and offering one to you. Do the same thing for someone else.
Let’s see what happens.
Rich Larson is the publisher and editor of SouthernMinn Scene. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.