Seeing is Not Always Bee-lieving

About age 10, I was playing SPUD in the front yard with some friends. The game started with someone throwing the ball up and calling out a name. I ran. But no one yelled SPUD.

I looked back to see what went wrong. The ball was on the ground amidst a cloud of insects. My friends were disappearing around the side of the house.

“Where are you going? It’s just knats!” I insisted waving my hands at the bugs as I walked back toward the ball. Getting stung shifted my perspective. The noticeably larger than knat-sized bees rose in a cartoon like swarm from a nest buried in the ground, but why did it take me so long to figure out what was happening?

This past year, I thought a lot about the bees. Every time someone shouted “hoax” about the pandemic, or repeated it was “just like the flu,” I remembered that day. “Come back! They’re just knats!”

Beliefs are formed when experiences are filtered through personality. If feeling powerless is a trigger, avoiding that feeling is paramount, but some situations are unavoidable.

Perhaps I didn’t “see” the bees that day because when the ball was thrown in the air, I moved away from the safety of the house. My brain refused to register the threat because, if the bees were real, I was screwed. The denial held until the pain of being stung broke it.

When the pandemic descended on America, experts, and those with authority, presented conflicting information. Scientists couldn’t even agree how the virus was transmitted. The only facts were there was no cure, it was spreading, and despite wearing masks and taking protective measures, people were getting sick.

Not surprisingly, some refused to acknowledge the threat. The fear was too overwhelming. Discounting precautions as unnecessary panic was easier than facing the uncertainty.

Thanks to the vaccine, we are starting to come out of the pandemic now. As survivors, the experience has been programmed into our belief system, and I expect to be better prepared should another pandemic occur in my lifetime, but what about the deniers? Do they live forever in an alternate reality?

Note: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I have written this piece based on my understanding of the world (personality + experience = beliefs). None of the supposition presented above is meant to be taken as facts or advice, merely hypothesis.

What Do We Do Now?

It kind of feels like Dumbledore died all over again, and Voldemort has risen.

Sadness, fear, and uncertainty are pervasive, and one question lingers, “what do we do now?” The answer is we do exactly what Harry, Ron, and Hermione did-we hunt horocruxes.

The Republican version of a horocrux isn’t quite as hard to find as those in the JK Rowling series. The life blood of a red states is hatred, division, and lies (mostly lies told to kind, trusting Americans to convince them to support Voldemort). We destroy these with truth, love, and acceptance. Defeat the bad with good.

The trickier part of the hunt comes when faced with actual threats of racial bias, intimidation against those of different sexual orientations, misogyny, religious persecution, and a populace educated with an overkill of mis-information.

“If you see something, say something” takes on an additional meaning going forward. It requires each of us stand up for marginalized citizens being persecuted. Not getting involved is the equivalent of condoning bad behavior.

Remember that the final horocrux presents the biggest challenge. To eradicate bias in another person requires each of us to acknowledge our own bias. None of us is perfect. Everyone has a valid perspective. We can learn a lot from others, especially when their words are not the ones we want to hear.

Take a walk in the other person’s shoes. Send your love before you. Be respectful of all.

Give Some to Get Some

Most days I have better conversations with my 8 year old nephew than I do with other adults. Kids are pretty easy, though. Give them a little attention and you’ve secured a captive audience. The same rules don’t always apply with adults.

Some people never give up chasing flashy things, and not being an expert in attention grabbing, I tend to end up too easily overlooked. But, if I take a stab at self promotion, I feel like an imposter.

How can you be memorable without being famous?

I had been pondering this dilemma when I ran into an old childhood friend. I had not seen much of him as an adult, but we stayed in touch on social media and began to communicate regularly over email. 

As one conversation led to the next, I teased him for being so chatty, but in truth, is he is friendly. With very little effort he demonstrated the secret for how to be memorable, in a not-at-all-flashy-or-self-promoting way. He acknowledges people rather than waiting for them to notice him.

He is simply interested, and that makes him interesting. 

Lesson learned. Just like with kids, when talking to adults, all you have to do is give some to get some.

Scratch Below the Surface

The other day, my nephew was playing with his Lego figurines. His brow furrowed in concentration as he swapped heads and legs, helmuts and hair. The activity mirrored my niece swapping outfits and shoes on her dolls. Same game, different toys.

It occurred to me that adults focus so much energy highlighting the differences among us. Perhaps, if each of us looked more closely, we might notice more of the ways we are alike.

We all have opposable thumbs and pump red and white cells in our blood. We all cry the same salty tears. Too many tears, lately.

The next time hate, anger, doubt, or fear focuses the attention on what separates us, pause and take a breath. Then, try to note some of the ways we are alike.

Different hair color, eye color, skin color: same fears and insecurities. Different religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status: same hopes and dreams.

Scratch below the surface, and recognize we are all human.

Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

I attending a wedding a few weeks ago, and ended up cloistered at a table with other singles: all divorced or widowed, and at least 25 years older than me. I was able to make polite conversation, but often glanced around at the other tables full of my contemporaries. They were all coupled up.

My friend, the groom was beaming. After searching for a wife (including two engagements that never made it to the altar), he finally achieved his goal by getting married at age 44.

The newlyweds union was born from online dating. They seemed like a really good match. Not the same, and not without flaws, but two hearts that compliment each other well.

As the band played and I watched all the couples dance, I reflected on my own uncoupled conundrum.

My fatal flaw is obvious-I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Anytime a cute guy smiles at me, I let him sell me the Brooklyn Bridge, and I pay top dollar, too.  It doesn’t matter how many times this illusion has been proven completely, and utterly false, I dismiss my own history and believe THIS one is different.

On the drive back to the airport, I stopped to fuel up both the car and myself. The cashier tried to help me select something to eat, but I was distracted by the black, blue, and purple balloon where her left eye should have been. The fist that broke her face had struck not too many hours beforehand, but here she was hard at work. It looked painful, but she did not complain, a true physical abuse veteran.

I drove off wondering why anyone would stay with a man who speaks with his fists, but I quickly dropped my judgement. Who am I to point a finger? The emotional abuse I’ve suffered at the whim of narcissist companions doesn’t show outwardly, but it does leave a mark. Yet, I walked away only half of the time, and only after a long debate with myself. The other half of the time, I was left behind with my heart ripped to shreds.

Why do we tell ourselves we are not worthy?

I’d argue that I do believe in myself, but my reality tells a very different story. I want to blame the guy. I need to believe he doesn’t understand me, or he just wasn’t the right one, but the truth is I lack a clear understanding of my value in this world.

Since Ann Landers says I can’t accept my dog’s admiration of me as conclusive evidence that I’m wonderful, I’d better set my sights on looking within.

“He who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened.” -Lao Tzu

Explore Locally

“Travel is a glorious form of procrastination” –Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

Frequenting travel websites partially satiates my desire to disappear to a remote tropical island, but mostly, I peruse Kayak and Expedia because my job includes arranging travel for others. Booking airline tickets and hotel rooms that I will never set foot in is a little like standing on the sidelines of a road race. I would much rather be taking part in the action.

I read recently that planning a trip, even if you never take it, can be good for you-something about anticipation sending happy chemicals to the brain. Now you know why the Travelocity gnome is always a little loopy.

I remember traveling to Greece and Rome, finally seeing all the places that I’d learned about in school. Even though the ruins were…ruined, to be there allowed me to absorb a little of life in BC. It was SO cool, and I think about trips like that when I’m moving through the humdrum of daily life. Why mow the lawn when I could be hiking the Great Wall of China?

Time off from work and my meager bank account are two reasons why not.

My limitations started me thinking about how to open my mind to the everyday world around me. I shouldn’t have to travel to China to create new experiences. Instead of pushing a mower around the yard, I could lay down on the lawn with a pair of scissors to discover a new perspective, or I could delve into the local culture. There are streets in my town I’ve never driven down, people I’ve never talked to, and restaurants I’ve never tasted.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money or require a lot of planning (or Bonine) to achieve perspective and adventure. Most of us can find it around the corner or down the street if we are willing to do some exploring in our own backyard, and once you have made the effort, the experience won’t just be a memory, it can be shared over again with neighbors, family, and friends.

 

Insights on Love From my Resume

 

I’ve had a lot of jobs, but I’ve never been fired from one. Each time I choose to leave (and my boss tries to convince me to stay), I feel a little guilty, but I also know it is time to move on. Sounds like a guy ending a relationship, doesn’t it? I thought so too, which is how I matched up my relationship heartbreaks with reasons I’ve given for leaving behind perfectly good jobs…

 

Guy’s perspective on the end of the relationship: It was never meant to be a long term thing

 

The job I left for this reason: packing and shipping

 

 

Guy’s perspective: We’ve outgrown each other

 

Job I left: Retail

 

 

Guy’s perspective: My plans are in motion. We could’ve been great together, but I have to go.

 

Job I left: Moved back East instead of taking bank job in San Francisco

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: You demand too much of my time & put too much pressure on me.

 

Job I left: Accounting

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: I don’t get you. I never know what’s coming. This is too stressful.

 

Job I left: Juvenile Detention

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: It used to be mellow and fun, but now we fight all the time.

 

Job I Left: Non-Profit

 

 

Now, if I can just find the right job, then maybe there is hope that the right guy is be out there, too….