I Feel Fine

…and that’s HUGE!

Sometime around the age of 10, I suddenly realized that when people asked me how I was doing, they didn’t really want to know. It made them uncomfortable when I responded honestly, because my childhood was your basic nightmare. It was a bitter pill to swallow, figuring out that people, in general, really don’t care.

So I had to come up with a stock response to get through those situations. I couldn’t say “fine,” though, because I’ve never been that good of a liar. So I started saying “Pretty good,” because they could make up their own happy little scenario from there, and yet I wouldn’t make myself sick by blowing sunshine.

“Pretty good” became such a habitual response for me that I began to give it even less thought than the people who did the asking. It was as rote as saying “God bless you” after someone sneezed. It’s what you say to move on to the next thing.

And then suddenly, about a month ago, someone asked me how I was doing, and I said fine. It wasn’t premeditated. It’s just what came out. It startled me.

I was even more surprised by the fact that, upon reflection, I knew I was telling the truth. I’m fine. I’m fine! For the first time in my life, I’m doing just fine.

I’ve been saying fine ever since. And no one except me (and now you, dear reader) has any idea how momentous that is. Which is just fine.

Snoopy Dance

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Get a Life

Yup. I heard someone say that to a girl who looked really resigned and defeated the other day. Clearly the comment was not made to buck her up.

If I were inclined to butt into other people’s business, I’d have had quite a bit to say to that girl. Too much, probably. Maybe I should have. I don’t know.

First of all, I would have said, you have a life. You’re breathing, right? So clearly your “friend” doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He said that to you because the life you have does not meet his specifications. And nothing says you have to meet his specifications. Your life is your own to do with what you will.

Often people will say “Get a life” when someone is intruding upon theirs, though. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to examine your behavior to make sure you aren’t trying to push unsolicited advice onto him. Because he, too, has a right to do with his life whatever he wants.

But expressing concern about someone’s behavior because you care is not a crime. Empathy is a good trait to have. Don’t let anyone quash that in you.

Just be sure you can distinguish between expressing concern and trying to solve someone else’s problem. Give advice if asked. Otherwise just tell the person what is worrying you, in a calm and factual way, and let the cards fall where they may. After all, you’d want the same treatment, wouldn’t you?

But if allowed to butt in even further, I’d suggest that perhaps that girl might want to find a different friend. Because if someone is inclined to be that rude, and wants to shut you down so thoroughly, then you’re not being valued at all. You deserve better, girl.

If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you find yourself saying “Get a life” to others on a regular basis, you might want to a) stop and listen to what people are trying to tell you, and/or b) figure out that you are not the life police. Advising others that they have no life is rude, arrogant, insulting and unproductive. Maybe you should get a life. (See what I did there?)

https _www.askideas.com_media_65_The-older-I-get-the-more-I-understand-that-its-okay-to-live-a-life-others-dont-understand

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First World Problems

Have you ever tried to find a last-minute dog sitter for a holiday weekend? Especially when you have a dog with a history of chewing on people? It’s no picnic, believe me. I asked 8 different sitters, and had no luck whatsoever. Come on. I just want a romantic weekend with my new boyfriend! Waaaaaah!

In times of great stress, that very boyfriend likes to remind me that the situation in question is a very First World problem to have. (See, that’s why I respect him so much. He’s pretty darned deep. And he’s great at calming me down.)

He has a point. Perspective is a wonderful thing. Relatively speaking I have very little to worry about. There have been no drive-by shootings in my neighborhood. I know I will eat today. It’s a safe bet that I won’t freeze to death. No armies will invade my city. I will very likely live my entire life without hearing an air raid siren. I’m safe. I’m secure. I’m healthy. I have options.

It’s those people who lack perspective who tend to succumb to road rage. They’re the mass shooters, the wife beaters, the conspiracy theorists, the Fox news viewers of the world. They are the ones who whip up mass hysteria about situations that don’t even exist.

I just need to remind myself that this is no time to panic. I’ll be fine. My dog will be fine. My romantic weekend will be fine. And if this is the worst thing that’s happening in my life, then I’m one fortunate blogger, indeed.

Perspective

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Arbitrary Stress

I like to have at least 7 blog entries in queue, waiting to be posted, one per day, when the clock strikes twelve. Right now I’m one behind and it’s stressing me out. I can’t come up with anything to write about.

But for heaven’s sake, what difference does it make if I have 6 or 8? I mean, my adrenaline is pumping (well, a little bit, anyway) because of a random yardstick I’ve chosen to measure myself by. Yeah, it’s good to have goals, but this is truly absurd.

What’s going to happen if I don’t write that 7th entry today? Will Donald Trump jump out of the bushes and grab my nasty bits? (Now, that would be something to write about! Once I was bailed out of jail and he got out of intensive care, that is.)

I think that in some ways, we were better off back in the days when we were chased by saber-toothed tigers. Now that was a legitimate cause for concern. You’d run like hell, and either be killed or survive, and then move on to the next thing. But lacking tigers, we feel the need to make shit up. And in this modern world, the pickings are mighty slim.

I need to practice determining which of my unmet expectations are actually worthy of my anxiety, and which are random constructs that my tiger-craving mind is conjuring up for lack of anything better to do. Perspective. It’s a beautiful thing. But for me, at least, it seems to be fleeting.

But, oh look! I just wrote my 7th blog entry! Yay, me! I deserve a cookie.

Smilodon_Knight

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Compassion

Compassion, defined as the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others,” is something you either have or you don’t. At this moment in history, perhaps more than any other, it is obvious that no fence-sitting on this issue is acceptable. Pick a side. Own it.

One shouldn’t have to have experienced tragedy to feel compassion for others who are experiencing it. The human brain has evolved enough to allow us all to imagine situations that we have not gone through ourselves. Compassion can be learned. It should have been modeled for us by our parents if we were raised in a functional household. Religions spend a lot of time focusing on this subject as well. “Do unto others…” is all about compassion.

But part of it is also instinctual. If you see someone smash his or her thumb with a hammer, it should be natural to wince and think, “That’s got to hurt.” It would be normal to have that thought even if you’ve never held a hammer in your life.

So when I hear that the White House’s budget proposal would defund Meals on Wheels because “it’s not showing results”, I am horrified. I immediately think of one 75 year old invalid who wouldn’t otherwise eat a healthy meal. I think of the fact that she has so little human contact, and looks forward to this visit each day. I think of how she’s been able to stay out of a nursing home at taxpayer’s expense because she’s still independent enough to manage as long as someone checks on her daily.

When I hear that the White House wants to take money away from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks Service, I am appalled. I think of the future generations who will not know the beauty and health that is provided by a sustainable planet.

When I read that guns can once again be placed in the hands of the mentally unstable, I am horrorstruck. I cannot imagine what possible good this will do for society, but I certainly can anticipate the tragedies it will create. I also ache for the families of past victims, who must be devastated by this outrage.

When I hear that people want to pour even more money into our already over-bloated military budget, I am revolted. I think of the death and destruction and domination and pain and anguish that is the end result of every single war, no matter how justified we think that war may be.

When I read about immigrants, illegal or otherwise, who are ripped away from their families, and/or prevented from trying to break the chains of poverty, I am ashamed. I think of my own family history and wonder what would have become of me if my ancestors were beaten down by this same heartless stick.

I really don’t understand people who don’t have compassion. I didn’t realize until recently that there are so many of them out there. And many of them claim to be religious. What am I missing? It sickens me.

compassion-857765_960_720

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Tragic Nostalgia

As I write this blog entry, I’m watching video footage of the eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano. It’s about 50 miles southeast of Mexico City, and I have been on its slopes. It has erupted about a dozen times since then, and it always brings me back to that long ago visit.

Although I didn’t reach its summit, I know I reached the highest elevation I ever have in my life, because the air was so thin I could barely function. That is something I never experienced before or since. I contented myself with taking in the view, which included her sister volcano, Iztaccihuatl. That was an amazing day, one for my bucket list.

Whenever Popo blows her top, I worry for the people in the surrounding villages. These people were very warm and welcoming to me. They made me feel safe and comfortable. It pains me to think that during times of eruptions, they themselves are far from safe and comfortable.

When a tragedy causes you to have feelings of concern mixed with nostalgia, it can be very hard to reconcile those contrasting emotions. During times like these I feel helpless. I also better understand why people take so much comfort in prayer.

Popocatépetl
Popocatépetl

Road Tripping

I just got back from a trip to Vancouver. I’ll be writing quite a bit about that, I’m sure. But right now I’m writing about road trips in general.

I absolutely love to travel. It’s my reason for being. Seeing things I’ve never seen and doing things I’ve never done just seems to feed my spirit in a way that nothing else can. Just having an adventure to look forward to brightens my mood.

I love to read up on my destination and make plans and compile packing lists. I love to pore over maps and dive headlong into guidebooks. I’d hate to go to someplace unprepared, only to find out upon returning home that there was something amazing there that I had missed. The buildup to a vacation is almost as interesting as the trip itself.

And then you have the actual trip. The driving there. The worrying that your luggage will be lost, or you’ll leave something behind, or you’ll take a wrong turn, or maybe that you won’t understand the rules of the road in another country. It’s the anxiety of reservations misplaced, tickets lost, identification overly scrutinized. It’s agonizing to worry about being late or missing a connection. I hate to think of all my plans falling to ruin. I hate the travel part of travel.

I probably miss out on a lot of the beauty that is in the in-between places due to all that anxiety. It has been forever thus with me. There’s just too much to contemplate about the destination to focus on the journey. I really need to work on that.

Ah, but when I get there? Pure bliss. Let the adventure begin!

[Image credit: pinterest.com]
[Image credit: pinterest.com]