As a mother of two young boys, I’ll be the first to admit that I miss something I’ve never known: the village. In today’s world, the nuclear family is becoming less and less of a valued commodity and more of a hassle. Older generations spend their remaining years among strangers in a nursing home while young parents are often living miles, states, countries away from family.
The written thank you letter is biodegrading into our past and speaking out to strangers is becoming more and more stressful…
Sure, technology helps us keep in touch with daily texts, emails or even face-time with family, but the continued physical support of a loved one being present is something I know I could use. Someone with loving interest in my children, their grandchildren, to teach the deeper issues that our society is dealing with, because I at times feel vacant at how. As a parent, you learn that parenting is much less what you say and almost completely what you do, and therefore, you must consider how you are teaching gratitude.
Aside from the blatant cliche, there is a deeper truth in this quote. When we stay home, we stay comfortable. If you’re like me, you might have spent a lot of time wanting this. Then one day something changes. Maybe it’s a pretty photo on Instagram. Or a cheesy movie starring Julia Roberts, probably. Whatever it is, you get the bite. To leave. Not forever, of course. But to just go somewhere else.
As a single woman just passing the dreaded thirty threshold, travel felt to me like a foreign prospect (pun intended). In my somewhat dated perception, traveling alone for girls wasn’t all that common. And I, having no male companion to speak of, almost felt shut out of the opportunity for long-form vacations, believing they were reserved for couples in love or retirees with savings.
It wasn’t until I hopped my sixth or seventh plane in Southeast Asia, on the first big excursion of my life, that I realized my assumptions were all wrong. Not only was traveling easy for me, the fact that I was doing it my own way, on my own time, made it that much more fulfilling.
I saw this shirt posted by Pitchfork from Angel Olsen (a musician I’ve never listened to, but I know comes highly recommended). This paired with the recent news from London–the bombing, the vehicular homicide (among SO MANY other things, obviously)–brought a totaling body count to mind. Flesh heaped on flesh, red digits racking up, no time for a breath, blink and gone.
Why is the world so fucked up? I mean, it’s not new. People have suffered at the hands of each other for centuries. Our whole history is made up of who won a war against who, who is memorialized for dying in it, and the nameless millions and billions and more who no one will ever know. Pride and greed top the obvious list for why our world is fucked up. Wherever there’s selfishness, there will be souls in its wake. It’s easy to point this out at a distance: Wall Street fiends, celebrity hacks, politicians and preachers–all often one in the same. We seethe at home, thinking that if they’d just WAKE UP or GET LOST, we’d all be better off. But it’s always boggled me how we wish for peace at large, yet within our own communities, we still foster discontent. In my mental wingback chair, I sigh and suppose… it’s because our primary needs of sorrow and neglect are erased by protective shields and barriers like anger and vindictiveness, which cause divide.
I’m not above any of this. I’m envious, I’m spiteful; I get sad, I get tired. And that’s part of being human. It’s impossible to eradicate all of it all of the time. There will always be something that gets under your skin, offends, pains, discourages. I don’t think the point is how to avoid reacting to any of that, I think what splits the difference is teasing forward that other part of yourself that says,”I want to try again,” or “let me understand,” not “fuck you” or “oh well.” Those are easy tropes. They can be funny while they are erase responsibility. But where is the emphasis on compassion?* Our collective culture doesn’t actively lift up language for healing. And I don’t mean that in altruistic ignorance. I mean the language that seeds what can happen when you choose to regenerate like a green plant instead of blistering under heated pride.
Pride isn’t the only cause for trouble in our world, but from where I can see in my little corner, and what I’ve had to deal with and encounter, a lot of the gratuitous fuck yous and self righteousness that feel good in the moment just perpetuate stand-offishness and aloofness could have been salved with the generosity of spirit. That thing that rings in the back of your mind and says, “We all bleed. This isn’t the hurt olympics. Help me.” Call me an idealist at heart (please do), but I do think that with each small step we take in our own lives to honestly account for our actions and feelings, the closer we will come to that embrace we all seek: hope.
*I read something somewhere once that was like, “The three hardest things to say in life are, ‘I love you. I’m sorry. Help me.’” I try not to waste my time wondering why it’s hard to say these things. I’m more interested in trying to open my mouth and say them.