The Winds of Change…2018

Happy New Year to All! I’m more than happy to say goodbye to 2017. It was a difficult year of loss, political divisions, sorrow and change. 

Truthfully, I’m not much of a political pundit and usually after an election year I am eager to let go of political debates. This year was a wholly different animal. The politicians and their enormous egos, hubris, and selective memories have literally left me speechless. I keep wondering where are the adults? Whose responsibility is it to change the trajectory of our political discourse? As my sons and I grapple with the magnitude of our country’s growing pains, I am heartened to hear my children say they’re prepared to change the legacy that we have unfortunately burdened them with for the foreseeable future. I am extremely proud to have raised two teenage boys who are paying attention to what’s going on in the world and have their own ideas about how to solve our country’s looming credibility problems, our fiscal nightmares and our racially stoked divisions. To the future!

Grappling with the death of loved ones has been personally much more daunting. I’m at the age now where I am letting go of my heroes and learning to live without their guidance, support and advice. Frankly, I should attend a support group for adults handling the circle of life. From childhood to teens, twenties, etc. and finally the natural progression of my elders passing away and suddenly  I’m the wise one in the room, (mostly due to age and not actual knowledge). I feel like I looked away for a minute and the people that I love and trust most in the world, who know me sometimes better than I know myself, have gone. And while they will never be forgotten, I miss their wisdom, their experience and their ability to spot bullshit when they see it and thankfully never felt shy about sharing their opinions with me. Somehow in the chaos of growing up I realize that my friends and I are becoming “that old generation.” I don’t think I’m ready for full-time adulting!

 


So goodbye 2017, and thanks for the lessons. Its’s been rough and I know that in some ways I am much stronger. I guess I can be grateful for that, only not so many hard lessons, if you please, for 2018! While I admire strength and resilience, I have also come to realize how vulnerable and fragile my life truly is. That nothing is promised, not even my next breath, is the hardest lesson I have learned deep in my bones this year. Before they were just platitudes and clichés and I nodded along with everyone else thinking that that “time” is so far away. 

I pray that it is still far away but I know that grief will visit me and my friends and family again, all of us at some point. I hope that when it rears its ugly head, I can be as good an elder to the next generations as the grownups were in my life. I hope the wisdom that was shared with me will benefit my children and their children for generations to come. If I teach them nothing else, I will teach them to treasure every moment with the people they love, admire and respect. And when the time comes for them to say goodbye to those “going home,” I pray they will hear the love, cheering, and wisdom from their elders like their own personal  soundtrack. I pray that their lives will be filled with more ups than downs and that when the people they love leave them, they can take comfort from knowing they left them and all of us better than they found us.

Yes, the winds of change are here and I hear the whispers of the loved ones who are gone and I know they’re still rooting me on, laughing when I screw up and heartened to know, I did learn some valuable lessons from them along the way. I also hear, “I told you so,” on a regular basis but who could blame them? They so often did tell me so!  

 

Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

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