Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Old Places & Tired Things

I’m showing my age.

I catch myself remembering places. Homes with creaking floorboards and woodwork caked with thick layers of paint. Basement shelves festooned with cobwebs and garages with untold treasures tucked away in tattered boxes and old tin cans in the half-lit gloom. The visual memories tickle my smell memories. If I breathe in, I my mind could trick me into believing that the dry, odd funks I recall would again fill my nostrils. Dust, age, grit. Lives lived hard, going back decades. Generations.

I didn’t understand what that all could mean. There’s a value in those worn things.

Having the latest and greatest things isn’t important. Having what you need is.

Being seen with the “right” people isn’t important. Giving love and support to and receiving them from others are.

Seeing all the current shows isn’t important. Being able to enjoy a good story with someone is.

Being The Best isn’t important. Having the opportunity to be a good and genuine YOU is.

Our ancestors were no angels. They worked hard. They suffered much to survive. They screwed up. They had to start over. They used and reused. They fought. They improvised. They made deals. They shared with their family and friends. They practiced skills they hoped would benefit both them and their loved ones over the long-run. They defended what (and who) they thought of as “their own”.

We have more resources today and have more complex tools, but we also have bigger problems. That’s not an excuse. We should be able to devise ways to ensure we all have a chance. We claim we’re more advanced than those who existed 500 years ago. We should show it.

We should be able to expand our circles and include more of each other in solutions to our problems. It’s not “us” versus “them”. Today, we have more and more ways for things beyond our own immediate control to affect us directly, painfully and perhaps catastrophically.

Our own country’s founding documents include 3 “inalienable” rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I wrote of this recently in Personal and Public Ikigai in the United States. What amazingly constructive things could occur if we revisited those ideas in our world today? I’m reading that piece again in light of the March For Our Lives campaign. To do, “that which the world needs” and “that which you love”. I believe they may be embracing this idea already.

“What the world needs.” Powerful notion.

Sure, we could hide from each other. Sure, we could try to protect “ours” in smaller and smaller buckets. But, there are other possibilities. What if we take what we’ve learned from out past and apply those concepts of what I defined earlier as what is really important. 

What if we worked towards everyone having what they need (wages, health & mental care), everyone giving & receiving love & support (volunteering, networking, focusing on positives, not focusing on defending), everyone being able to sit with someone else (collaborating, not yelling and blaming), and everyone having the opportunity to be a good and genuine self (respect the other’s sex, sexual orientation, color, ethnicity and religion)?

If we have hope, we can try. Today we can reuse and improvise in brand new ways. We can work from “I can” and “We will” instead of “We can’t” or “I won’t”.

The kids of today’s kids will have the same opportunity as I had to walk among the bits and pieces of what will become the stuff we left behind. They should be able to discover truths and connections with their own lives and futures. Hopefully, they will both be bright.

They may be, with our help.

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