Thursday, July 31, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The withdrawal from social media has me jonesing in odd ways. The reach to post or "catch up" on those constant streams of thought on Twitter and Facebook has been ridiculous - if not embarrassing. As if it somehow proves my existence to share my thoughts on that plane. Or worse, the worthiness of my existence.
But get this. Dude, it's so much quieter in my brain!
And, of course, some would say my posts here are merely a substitute; and perhaps this blog is the step down drug of my detox. But detoxing I am... Not reaching for that Twitter feed of Flint Police Ops after hearing sirens at 3am - oh yeah, it takes courage and determination baby!
Now that I'm not cruising the Twitter feeds for news, I came upon this - believe me, I wasn't looking for it, but it certainly seemed timely. Research has winnowed out the negative symptoms of social media addicts (like me - there, I said it!) There is that same jittery feeling when you can't check the status or look at the feeds. But the piece went on further to describe the deeper issues such as seeing an ex on Facebook can restrict personal growth and emotional recovery; excessive usage can be a contributing factor in divorce; spending more time on Facebook can lead to increased feelings of unhappiness with your own life; and passively scrolling through your News Feed can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.
I also was struck by the human nature observation of a 25-year-old who had just been sentenced in a Grand Rapids court for his role in the murder of another man. As he was leaving the courtroom, the guy turns toward the prosecutor, police and the family of a murder victim and held up the middle finger on each of his cuffed hands and cussed at them.
Wow! I had to read it a couple times. I thought I missed something. Here was this adult male who had destroyed the lives of a family - and he was angry at them? He was facing the consequences of his actions - and he was angry - and made the entire situation even more deplorable.
There is so much I do not understand about life - about people. So much that is utterly confusing as we try to find logic in a very illogical world.
It seems the greatest hope we can have is to be a faithful person - to have faith in something greater than ourselves. To be known as a faithful person who can be counted on to help make the world a better place. To be the real deal to everyone we encounter.
But what makes a person truly genuine?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A friend of mine attended the Cannabis Cup this past weekend, billed as a two-day marijuana celebration at Auto City Speedway. He/she said some 400 people attended a concert Saturday night by Wyclef Jean, wandered through all sorts of vendors selling drug paraphernalia, and entered a "Medicinal Tent" where they were able to freely experience the "medicinal" effect of pot. High Times Magazine sponsored the event - and I forgot to ask if my friend saw a single doctor.
So my friend tells me they need an id to enter the medicinal tent "where the real action is." Of course, he/she didn't have an id, but their much older friend did. Forget the fact they look nothing alike! The old friend is granted access after the attendant checked the id. The old friend manages to slip the id back to my friend, poignantly reminding me of those days when fake ids granted access to every bar on college campuses. My friend flashes the id to the attendant who looks at it, looks at he/she, looks at id, looks at he/she - squints, then somewhat exasperated, says, "Whatever. Go ahead. Have fun." Entrance to the Medicinal Tent at the High Times Magazine Cannabis Cup is granted. No one even seemed the least bit concerned for the illness my friend was experiencing. In fact, my friend said they didn't see a lot of sick people attending the event.
WHAT?? This wasn't a modern day Bethesda with a multitude of sick, blind and withered, waiting for the moving of the water? (Scripture - look it up - John 5:2&3!)
It's all in the billing of this stuff, how we market it. The words on every social media program seems to promise all that we longed for in high school - popularity. Just how many friends do we have? Do they like us? Did they accept my friend request? Oh my gosh, what about that feeling when we discover we have "friends" who have "unfriended" us?
It is hard for me not to hear the echoing words of a Flint teacher when I am considering all this. At the time, I was struck by his progressive stance that social media is actually nothing more than the 21st century playground - kids do the same things online as they did when they were outside and beyond the reach and glance of teachers who would correct anti-social behavior. On both playgrounds, there were bullies, false friends, words were said that stuck for a lifetime. Sometimes they get caught. Lots of times they don't.
Truth be told, we don't really have as many friends as Facebook boasts. In a crisis, very few, if any, of my Twitter followers would be willing to drop everything to help me through the terror. And I have bemoaned the fact that hardly anyone ever likes my photos on Instagram - and I think they are great shots, darn it!
And there may have been a few sick folks in the Medicinal Tent, but I am thinking the great majority were not. They were in there trying to feel better about life, sliding in under a false identity, but hoping the subterfuge wouldn't be discovered.
This post represents my first day of not relying on words and truly seeking presence in friendships the old fashioned way. No false identities. No subterfuge.
It also represents not having any friends as defined by the 21st century...
Monday, February 13, 2012
Friday, January 06, 2012
Thursday, January 05, 2012
You see, they are talking about me.
Some have even written about those who do not stop at stop signs or blow through red lights. And while that is not EXACTLY me, I HAVE joked that all laws have been suspended in Flint due to the budget cutting our enforcers. The truth is, I rarely see a police car any more. When I do, I automatically think it is serious trouble in this wild-western town, that they are chasing after some cattle-rustlers or bank robbers.
It could happen!
What has the listserve jumping is a pretty serious accident occurred yesterday along the main drag. In fact, it was an entrapment that involved kids that were apparently just picked up from the neighborhood school. I saw the two little ones who looked a bit confused. I took the liberty to fill in the gaps on information and assumed that their mom was in the ambulance. That had to be confusing for those two kids...
Life can change so quickly.
Good Lord, now they are talking about installing speed bumps on the listserve!
So my guilt is getting the best of me here. The funny thing is I thought no one noticed how I drive! It's not like I have a memorable car - or do I? Could it truly be that as these folks are posting their passionate thoughts on this listserve they are envisioning ME nearly missing them as I pulled out of the neighborhood?
And so I am thinking about this principle I have long held with a fair amount of self-righteous pride. If left to their own accord, will people do the right thing? If suddenly there were no laws, would the goodness of people instead reign civilly and therefore create a safe, hospitable environment? After all, the law of our hearts is stronger than any law of the land! I mean, right?
Oh great, now I'm thinking about that Edmund Burke line, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’
I think I've been playing for the wrong team...
And so how in the world do we apply this concept to the greater problems of Flint, MI? Can we? Is this now tested and failed personal principle indicative of an impending collapse as our hired enforcers become fewer and fewer? Do we even stand a chance with civility?
I'm turning myself in to the listserve! We may not be needing those speed bumps after all...
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
And I thought of my own unwillingness to be vulnerable yet this strong, pounding desire to live whole-heartedly. Her words pierced my heart as I considered one of the latest books I read on connectedness and my failures to live out the principles.
Brene writes: "... Connection is why we're here. It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it's all about. It doesn't matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice and mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is -- neurobiologically that's how we're wired -- it's why we're here."
"We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history," she writes. "The problem is -- and I learned this from the research -- that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment, I don't want to feel these. I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. I don't want to feel these.
"You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle."
But then, THEN, Brene starts meddling.
"One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn't just have to be addiction. The other thing we do is we make everything that's uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. I'm right, you're wrong. Shut up. That's it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There's no discourse anymore. There's no conversation. There's just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort."
I read those words over and over again. And over and over again.
Her 10 years of research found that whole-hearted people, very simply, experienced connection as a result of authenticity - they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were.
And her research found that whole-hearted people fully embraced vulnerability. "They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating ... They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say 'I love you' first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They're willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental."
The impact her research had on her own life was life altering - and how could it not be? "And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it? A: that's not me," she said. "And B: I don't even hang out with people like that. For me, it was a yearlong street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.
"We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate -- whether it's a bailout, an oil spill, a recall -- we pretend like what we're doing doesn't have a huge impact on other people. I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, "We're sorry. We'll fix it.
Brene points to the data, the 10 years of research that just might be a key to life: "We need to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard ... to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, 'Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?' just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, 'I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive.' "
I sat down and wrote to my new friend Brene Brown with gratitude overflowing, with a thawing numbness, and a growing amount of courage to live whole-heartedly, against the odds that there will be some great payoff - a payoff any greater than living life as it was meant to be.