What the April Thunderblizzard of 2018 Taught Me: Perspective
These past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the scope and sequence of this U&i blog. Truthfully, I have enjoyed it a great deal. The next blog will be coming out shortly. It’s written and ready to go. However, events of this weekend have compelled me to pursue a different topic. One perspective may suggest it’s completely unrelated. Another may suggest it is an essential precursor to the previous entries.
If you have been following along, you know this blog focuses on self-awareness, it’s practicality, and concrete strategies of implementation. This weekend threw me for a loop.
I struggle with bouts of anxiety and depression. Though I am an EXTREMELY fortunate individual and very aware of this, there are times I can’t seem to wriggle out of these shackles. The longer I live with them the more I believe in their transformational capacities. For good or for bad.
By all accounts, the activities in my weekend were enjoyable. Yet, the whole weekend was spent under the weight of a mental, emotional, and spiritual “fog.” Everything felt heavy as I went through the motions. I am familiar enough with my emotional and behavioral patterns that now I recognize the anxiety and depression when it arises. The struggle now days is to navigate the waters when I feel the waves crashing in and I become completely submerged.
There was a particularly high point during my weekend however. It came as I found myself running down the street through nearly a foot of snow, shovel in hand, on my way to help out a complete stranger whose car was beached on the snow like a whale on the beach. The car itself wreaked of marijuana. Every once in a while this smell still triggers my addiction patterns. This was one of those times. When all was said and done, it was not the shoveling that got he, his partner, and their infant child unstuck. Rather, it was a kind gentlemen with a pick up truck who pulled them out.
As they pulled away, I took a brief moment to breathe a sigh of relief. As I reflect, it was one of the few actual breathes I took this weekend. My breathing becomes shallow when anxiety and depression are near… As I raced my wife home through the snow, the thought came to me, “this is what will make America great again.”
Now, 99.9% of me absolutely hates that this phrase popped into my mind. Nevertheless, it has taught me a valuable lesson over the past 24 hours. Amidst all the chaos of our daily lives, whether it be personal, familial, societal, environmental, etc. - we have a choice to make. Recent events such as the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal or the bombing of Syria can be overwhelming and polarizing. Warranting an infinite number of valid reactions and responses.
Though I’d like to make a distinction between reactions and responses.
The anxiety and depression I experience cause me to react to my surroundings with a judgmental and pessimistic flair. Yet my response, repeating a phrase I have come to despise, after helping a complete stranger shovel out of the snow was the high point of my weekend. Furthermore, the irony is that I’ll be using Facebook to promote this blog. And yet, when compared to the stranger with his infant child in the car, or the innocent Syrians now dealing with the aftermath of a bombing - my emotional reactions and responses seem meaningless…
But they aren’t.
It is my responsibility to take care of myself so that I can be a better version of myself tomorrow. To do this, I must acknowledge and honor my inner landscape of experiences. Though this blog is no where near my best writing, nor has it been particularly enjoyable or exciting to write, it may be the most important to date. It’s a simple reminder to recognize, acknowledge, and have gratitude for the many blessings in life. As Gary Vaynerchuck loves to remind us all, the odds of becoming a human being are 400 trillion to 1.
That’s 400,000,000,000,000 : 1
This is not meant to belittle or suppress your experiences or struggles. Rather, a reminder to keep them in perspective. We are lucky to be living life itself. Lucky to have the capacity to care for ourselves and one another. May this perspective accompany you the next time you’re not feeling like your best self. May this perspective bring you some silence and solace amidst the Dissonance. May this perspective guide us toward a more permanent culture. One grounded in care of people, the earth, and future of all beings.