It Begins by Seeing Each Other as People

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

— Gwendolyn Brooks

We live side by side. We go to work together, shop together, sit next to each other in movie theaters and walk past each other on the street, and we don’t see each other at all. We don’t know a thing about our neighbors or the people living in the same spaces as us. We won’t look the cashier in the eye. We don’t have the patience for other drivers on the road. We don’t care about our coworkers weekend, even if we ask. We don’t want to help. We don’t want to hear it. Hell is other people, right?

And that’s just the people we see day-to-day. Then we get online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on our blogs where people are even people anymore. We jump into the comment sections under YouTube videos and articles on our preferred news and opinion sites. We turn on the TV and see nothing but violence and feel fear.

Soon other people aren’t even people anymore. They are obstacles and annoyances. They are different and dangerous. They are the other side, the enemy. They think differently than us, they feel differently than us and anyone who is different from us doesn’t matter. They are wrong. They aren’t worth the time.

Indifference grows to hate, and people never run out of reasons to hate. They hate people because they’re brown, because they’re femme, or because they’re queer, or disabled, or transgender, or Muslim, or poor. They hate people who look different, think different, worship different. Eventually, the hated ones grow bitter, and they hurl hate right back in return. The hate mixes with fear, and they fight, some with fists and guns, some wielding the law.

I’m angry, and I am full of hate too. It grows every time I turn on the news, and I’m tired of it. But as angry as I am, as scared as I am, and as much as I want to shut out half of the world, and as many solid reasons as I know I have to do so, I’m not convinced it’s the right way. I’m not sure that isolating myself from the people who I don’t like, that I don’t agree with, that I don’t want to acknowledge, dignify, or give space to will make the world a better place. I’m not sure that going on hating all those people will change them.

I know what they think of me, and convincing them otherwise is close to impossible, but every so often one is converted, and it happens more and more every day. It’s my job not to just stand up to them, but to convince them, help them, educate them.

To open yourself up this way is exhausting, I know. To have to explain yourself your needs and to in turn give space in your life for such hate to be lobbed back at you hurts. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not for anyone all the time. We have to take turns. We can retreat to safe spaces as needed, but we can’t stay there forever. We have to find a way to work it out no matter how hurt and angry we are because if we don’t both halves of humanity will go on fighting and living this double existence side by side and nothing will ever get better, and no one will learn anything.

But is that so bad? Is it really your job to care what people who hate you or are ignorant of your perspective think? Is it your job to educate them or drag them kicking and screaming toward compassion and cooperation? No, of course, it isn’t. Giving them space in your life is a purely personal decision but I think it might be the best thing to do if we want to make the world better. We are all we have, and I think it’s important we all care about each other, whether we agree or not. That doesn’t mean I accept your thinking, or that I will compromise my values. I can fight for whats right and still let you know I care about you. So, it’s not your job, but it is your problem. It’s all our problem to solve.

And solving it begins with seeing each other as people.

Both sides have to begin by understanding that we are all much more alike than we are different and nothing that any human feels or believes is beyond another human’s understanding. It takes stepping into the shoes of another and imagining their whole life had been your own. You may think and believe the same that they do now, and if you did, would the way you isolate and shame them make you change your view if you were them? I doubt it.

To think we can go on making progress with the world split and going for one another throats every day is delusional. The reality is someone is going to have to find a way to take the first step and the longer we tell ourselves that to do so is to compromise your integrity the further we drift from each other and the harder it will be to reconcile, but it will have to be done one day. We are going to have to care. We are going to have to stop seeing each other as the enemy.

We are going to have to start seeing each other.

We are one country, and one world, and in this vast, cold cosmos all we have is one another. Each of us is precious, even those among us who we disagree with. Even those we find ignorant and stubborn and who put themselves at the center of the world to the exclusion of all the rest, even they are rare and precious. Like Carl Sagan said “If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” So, yeah it should matter to you who hs healthcare. It should matter to you who has food, who has a job, who has a home, and who doesn’t. It should matter to you why people feel the way they do, hurt the way they do, and fight for the things they fight for. It is your problem too!

Your fellow human beings, whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, understand them or not, they are your responsibility.  We have to learn to get along sometime, so let’s try a little harder today, and a little harder the day after that. No matter your race, your class, your nationality, immigrant status, gender, sex, or sexuality, no matter how you were raised or what you believe, start by seeing each other as people.

Start by seeing each other at all.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image is by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // Life is Stressful, Life is Good

Hello dear readers. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine ad catching up. I wasn’t sure we were going to meet today. I have a lot on my mind, and so much I should be doing but it’s all a little overwhelming and when I am overwhelmed I shut down. So, I thought, maybe what I need a cup of strong coffee, a little conversation, and a chance to put my mind to other things before I can try again.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”

— T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell that like the rest of the country my TV is tuned to the news of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation in Texas. The images I see coming out of the city are shocking. It’s horrifying the amount of damage that has been inflicted along their coastal cities in the course of only a weekend.

Years ago we dealt with flooding here in Denver. It had rained here for days on end and once the ground had become saturated the water began to seep into our homes. Only 13 inches of fell rain over the course of many days here, and only an inch or so of water found its way into my basement, but even that felt devastating. I cannot imagine that amount and more over just one night, or the 50″ forecasted for Houston by the end of this storm. I can’t imagine how those people are feeling or how scared they might be.

I have family living in Houston—my sister, her kids and husband, and his family—and so far they are faring well, but that may not last as the waters are predicted to continue to rise through the middle of the week. I was happy to hear though that they have plenty of food and water, they have a plan should the water start to flood their apartment, and their satellite signal held out long enough to watch the Mayweather/Mcgregor fight last night.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the last couple of weeks have been more than a little crazy around here. The school year started and not only are we dealing with a severe driver shortage there is also new management and district wide problems ranging from students with lice to teachers and coaches charged with sexually assaulting students. We’re only two weeks in and this already feels like the worst year we’ve ever had.

Personally, though I’m doing better than most. My route is a good one, and I like the driver I’m riding with too. My girlfriend isn’t doing so well though. She’s still working up to 14 hours a day but she’s agreed not to work on Sunday’s and even when she goes in on Saturday’s she at least sleeps in a little and comes home in the early afternoon. I’m still worried about her stress levels and her health, but she is trying.

She’s agreed not to work more than 6 days out of the week, and when she goes in on the weekends, I am going to start going in along with her. I can write from there, and we can bring the dog too. It’s better than me sitting at home sad or making her feel bad for something that’s out of her control. When she isn’t working, we do our best go out, to keep off our phones, and keep our attention on each other. This weekend we saw friends for drinks and enjoyed a few movies at the drive-in.

By the way, Dunkirk was boring. Annabelle was creepy, but the plot was kind of dumb, and The Dark Tower was beyond disappointing. We had fun despite the movies.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it hasn’t been all bad though. I believe the last time we chatted was the week before our 15th anniversary. We kept it simple. Fifteen years together is quite a milestone but for us and we just wanted to enjoy it without any stress of planning or the pressure to make it perfect. That’s how we are though, the more important the milestone in our lives, the simpler we choose to celebrate it. This year it was a seafood dinner at our new favorite restaurant complete with plenty of wine and oysters. That was all.

It may sound boring, but it’s honestly all I ever want. Just to be with her in a place that has memories of us where we can spend a few hours getting to know each other again. The longer you are with someone, the more you realize that having someone listen to you, to laugh at your jokes, to offer advice and reassurance, and tell you all the good things you do and how much you mean to their world means more than any material gift or fancy destination. So that is what we give to each other, these little gifts for anniversaries, for birthdays, or sometimes just on a regular old Friday night after a hard week.

That’s love. That is what 15 years feels like to me.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are only 7 months into Trump’s term and I have already come to a point where I have to stop letting him, and his administration take up so much of my time and mental energy. I have to limit how often I read the news, and I will no longer allow myself to watch his speeches, his press releases, or his rallies live. I will watch when I am in a good place, not before bed, not when I am already having a bad day, and not on my bad anxiety days.

I am still committed to resisting his harmful, destructive, and chaotic agenda and I will still work hard to educate those around me and stay informed, but I will do it in my own time and in my own way. I’m tired of starting the day yelling at the TV and fuming on social media over his latest tweets and lies.

This past weekend is when I really began to cut myself off. The last straw, the moment I decided he will never be someone I consider a leader and when I lost the last scrap of hope I had that he might one day become a president I at least won’t be embarrassed by, came when I heard the news that while the entire country was sending thoughts and prayers to the people of Texas as Harvey slammed into the coast he quietly pardoned a racist and banned transgendered people from serving in the military.

He’s a snake and a coward, and he’ll never be my President.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is getting late and I really have to get going. There is just too much I have left to do before the weekend is over.

I have been working like hell for the past two weeks to get my application in for the Bitch Media Fellowship for Writers, and I am so close to finishing my cover letter, CV, and gathering my writing samples. I’m going to try to spend the rest of the day working on it. I had hoped to submit it all tonight, but with all the house work I have to do before the big Game of Thrones finale it may have to wait until early tomorrow morning.

I hope you had a wonderful week, and that your weekend was a relaxing one. If you are in Texas or have family near any of the destruction, my thoughts are with you. Please, stay safe.

Until next time.

And Lola, the cutest little pain in the ass I know lol 🐶

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Part-Time Monster

Featured image by Paul on Unsplash

You Have to Believe It

Hello, and happy Monday friends! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t exactly happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, a reset of sorts, every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“What makes you think you deserve to be happy?”

Thigh High

I read this some weeks ago, and my immediate thoughts were not positive ones. What does make me think I deserve to be happy? Who told me that and why do I believe it? Maybe none of us really deserve it. What does it matter in the grand scheme of the cosmos whether or not any of us is happy, or suffering miserably until death? It doesn’t.

So, why do I think that just because I was born, and I am here, I should get something out of it?

A feature of the human condition is endless frustration between ourselves and the universe over what we feel we deserve but are not getting out of life. We’ve all heard that life is unfair. We don’t want to believe it when we are young, but we learn it as we grow older. We learn that you don’t always get what you want and that good doesn’t always win. We learn that our hard work and sacrifice will more often than not go unnoticed and that the universe doesn’t owe us a damn thing.

We come to understand this, but we draw the wrong conclusions.

We grow bitter over time and sometimes, having nowhere to direct our pain and feeling a desire for understanding and control we turn the bitterness inward and believe that we don’t deserve happiness. It must be something within us that makes the world hate us so. There must be a reason that the scales are so tipped against us. There must be a reason that other people get ahead and we are stuck where we have always been, doing what we always have, and feeling shitty as ever.

But the real truth is, sometimes it is that shitty feeling that keeps us from moving forward.

Sometimes we hold on to these toxic worldviews, worldviews that, often, other people have put into us. People who didn’t believe they deserved better or happier either. People who were frustrated with the indifference and unfairness of it all. Those people drew the wrong conclusions too. They thought that because they didn’t deserve something, that you don’t either, but they are wrong.

The sad part is we all deserve better, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get it. The good news is, just knowing that can give you a better perspective and change things. Just knowing that you have the right to reach out and pull all the good things that come your way into your life and that no one has the right to take any of it away, can make your world a very different place.

If you think all you have is all you are ever going to get, you stop looking for more. When you think that this is what you get you think of your life as a punishment you accept and even seek out pain as a punishment. When you think that you don’t deserve to have the same as everyone else you set yourself apart as less than anyone else and inflict the greatest cruelty on yourself. If you do this and expect that some sign or someone will come along, tell you differently, and magically change things, you will be disappointed, because even if they do, it won’t make any difference.

You have to be the one to say it. You have to be the one who tells yourself that you have earned every breath, every joy, every hope, and opportunity. You have to be the one to tell yourself that you deserve more and better, and you have to believe it because no one else can make it so.

No one has the authority to tell you what is for you and what isn’t. No one is judging you or weighing what you have given against what you get. There is only you up against a very harsh and hard world. You may not be able to have it all, the world may not open for you and suddenly show you the way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can and get what you can, while you can.

This week, walk like you deserve to be here, work like you deserve more, and talk like you deserve to be heard. Love and accept love like you have earned the right to. Imagine a life where you are happy in all the ways you aren’t now and simply tell yourself that is what you deserve. You deserve more money, more consideration, and more respect. You deserve not to have to hurt so much, worry so much, stress so much. You deserve to feel good about who you are and what you look like. You deserve to be confident and to be accepted.

I’m not asking you to do anything different, I just want you to know, you are deserving of better and more. I want you to tell yourself that until you believe it, and when you hear your mind ask back, why? I want you to have an answer.

Maybe the universe doesn’t care, and maybe it doesn’t really matter either way in the long run, but I care, and you care, or you should, because you only get one chance at this, one chance! If there is no other reason why it is that. You get one chance, and no one has the right to limit you or give you less than what you’ve earned.

You, like everyone else, was born, has lived, and suffered. You were given a beautiful but limited gift and whether or not it was only down to chance doesn’t matter, because we all have the right to make the most of our miracle.

But you have to believe it to make it so.

***

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Passion and Pale

I paint with shades of
Passion pumping under pale skin
And make a masterpiece of you and me

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering + important reads from others, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written in response to The Daily Post prompt: Pink

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You are What You Cook for Me

I’m easily lured by food
bad for the body
but good for the soul
You are what you cook for me

I’ve never had the self-control
To choose what is good
Over what feels good

Sweet, and savory
Spicy, and so soul comforting
You really are what you cook for me
And I will ever over-indulge

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or share a cup of coffee perhaps? :)

Written in response to The Daily Post Prompt: Fry

Featured image via Unsplash

Five Minute Friday // In the Slow Time

Nothing feels slow anymore. I’m rushing to work, rushing through the day, rushing to get home, rushing to clean up, walk the dog, eat dinner, watch tv, and go to bed where I rush to sleep, to rush back to work the next day. Going, going, going, but getting nowhere I guess.

There are some slow times in there, and I savor them. They mean the world to me and when I guard it fiercely. So often it feels like that is all I have.

My favorite is every evening when the time comes for me to stretch out on my side of the couch, and the lovely woman who loves me back sits close by. We might not be paying much attention to each other, we may be looking at tv screens, iPad screens, laptop screens, or phones but it’s ok. We are together. The world is outside of these shitty, shabby walls and none of it can get it. This is our slow time.

There are pillows are piled up, and more blankets than we need. There are snacks, and drinks, Netflix, and chargers for every device. The dog joins on the far end and the cat squeezes in wherever she can. There is everything we need right there.

I stretch my feet out to rest on the lovely woman next to me, and she asks me what we ought to watch. We chew our dinner and enjoy it, not like the breakfast that comes in liquid form or the lunches that may not come at all. We talk about the day and finally find our feelings for it. At work, with others, there is no time to decide what you should have done or felt, but it all comes out in the slow time.

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Written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Slow

Featured image via Unsplash

 

Embracing Uncertainty

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a fresh start, every week. Mondays are our do-overs, our reset buttons, our first days. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

For me, this Monday is a super easy one, and, hopefully, if I can focus, a productive one too. It’s the first day of my winter break from work, and I hope to spend it writing as much as I can since I blew off the whole weekend laying on the couch or visiting family. I still have to work a few days over this week and next but today I am home. I am relaxed but focused. I have coffee, and I have set up shop in the spare bedroom, far away from the TV.

I am trying.

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to grow up and grow old with another person.

I feel lucky to have lived as close to a fairy tale as most people can ever hope. It has been—and continues to be a roller coaster ride of emotion and uncertainty by as time go one the highs are less high and the lows aren’t so low. It’s a good thing to be slow and steady and secure in each other. We are like one person with two brains. We fight, we confess, we whisper sweet nothings, and sometimes we want to get away from one another. It is all very lovely and typical.

We wanted to be secure with each other, but we became too confident in the trajectory of our lives. Lately, things are beginning to feel repetitive. Lately, things have started to feel like they are over.

We wake up, we work, we come home, we watch Netflix, we go to bed. We grocery shop, we see family, and we go to the movies. We pay our bills, we have food, we have a roof, we have water and heat. We have fun, and we laugh, but we have fun and laugh in all the same places with all the same people. We love each other, and we love the life we built, but it’s beginning to feel a bit too insulated I think.

There is no more uncertainty, and we have found that instead of making us any happier, it’s actually driving us a little insane.

Last night, just before we fell asleep, we had a bit of a joint existential crisis and decided that life feels too much like life is already over like we did everything everyone is supposed to do, or that we can do, and now we are just going through the motions until the end. It was sad, and I realized that to be feeling like this before we’ve even lived half of our lives is so awful. We are not supposed to be feeling like this!

So, I proposed that we make a joint New Year’s resolution. We will resolve to start, right away, doing all the things we’ve always wanted to do. All the places we’ve wanted to visit, all the experiences we’ve wanted to have, all the things we wanted to learn, they are going on the list. Some of the things on the list will be easy, trips and classes to take, some will be big, like changing our careers big.

Life may become a little less certain for us, but just thinking about this list and where it might lead us feels so exciting. It feels like life can begin again for us, together, as it should.

Life should never feel stale, and I regret letting things go on the same day after day the way I have. I grew up in chaos, and so this calm felt good. It felt like I could finally breathe. I could stop and look around, I could get my bearing and figure what it meant to exist, to be me, and to love, and suffer, and learn. But I have done that, and now it is time to shatter everything I think I know and let my life become something new again.

This week, we should all start thinking about what your life has become and what you always meant for it to be. How do you feel about where you are and what you might have thought was good and it turns out was not what you wanted after all? Think about what you have learned over your life and what you still hope to.

Think about how much time you have left and how you might feel when the end comes, and you have continued just as you are for the rest of the time you have. How might you feel?

Make a list of the things you want to do, see, and learn. Put them in whatever order you like and make it your mission to check off whatever you can—however you can—until you can’t anymore.

Think about how good that will make you feel, when the end comes, and you had the courage to let go and give into a little uncertainty so that you could really live!

***

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Quote via Austin Kleon

Featured image via Unsplash