I won't bore you, whoever you are, with the details of my horrible, terrible year; some of you might even want to believe that if I'm still here to complain about, I shouldn't be complaining at all. Normally, I'd good-naturedly tell you you were right. Not today, Today, I'm right. Why? Because I've lived through abandonment, abuse, teen pregnancy, single motherhood, two malignant brain tumors, melanoma, paralysis, disability, diabetes, Graves Disease...shall I continue? I didn't think so. And none of that occurred in 2009. None of the above is part of my complaint. My complaint's main problem is the human race. What has happened to us? When did it become okay to ignore other people? To deliberately steal from them? To persecute them for difference? To do any of a number of nasty things that are considered unbecoming in polite society--the problem is, this is no longer a polite society. This is a ME society.
Dr. Jean M. Twenge talked about this in her 2006 book on Generation Me, citing people born from the early to mid-1970's through the late 1990's...but it's not just those individuals. It's all of us. It's me, it's you, it's the guy you pass on the street, the woman standing on the corner--everyone. We all feel entitled in some way. Neither eager nor grateful. Why? Because we never EARNED what we had--none of us. From the very rights we enjoy as Americans, to the fact that we have opportunities, to health care, to you-name-it. We live in this amazing country with amazing benefits. People immigrate here from all over the world for a reason. But everyday, every year, that greatness has dwindled and because none of us earned it to begin with, we are all drowning.
This may not be the feel-good message you may be looking for in 2010; you may resent what I'm saying, call me negative or a pessimist. But then you'd have to remember that in the last twenty years, I've survived more than most people deal with in an entire lifetime. Then you'd remember that in order for me to still be here despite all of that misery, I must have been, well, positive, optimistic even. You couldn't find a more apt cheerleader-type if you tried. I even have pom poms.... No, it's not me being negative or pessimistic. It's my gift to you--whoever you are--my gift of TRUTH.
Instead of always forgiving ourselves, distracting ourselves and generally not paying attention--let's stop that feel-good krap (yes, with a "k"--my own spelling) and start LOOKING and THINKING. You want 2010 to be better? Me, too! All you have to do is pay attention. Think. Speak. And act in ways that are mindful of others, mindful of the very real connection we all share. We may not have the fancy tentacles shown in the recent Avatar movie to visually see that connection, but it's real nonetheless. Some of the most ancient philosophies known to man discuss the "web of humanity" and our perpetual connection. EVERY life affects another. So be kind to every life. We've forgotten this very important rule, so busy trying to forget about the things we can't control, the things that scare us the most.
I'm clearly frustrated, and, powerless. If I had even a modicum of power I'd be singing a quite different tune. But it's good to feel like I do. That's when change happens. I may only be one person, but I'm connected to everyone else. I'm connected to you, and through you, others. Henry James said it is time to begin living the life we imagine. Have you asked yourself what that is? Do any of us even have the tiniest clue about that life? I think that's where "it" begins, whatever "it" is. That's where we confront what is truly important. And that's where the first call to adventure happens.
So, are you brave enough? To face that life? To ask the hard question--not of others, but of yourself? Be courageous. If you knew that you were going to die in five years, would you be able to do it? Of course! You'd have nothing to lose, right? Well, I'm here to tell you that if you have yet to ask yourself the hard question, then you've already lost more than you can afford. I'm here to speak truth, and it's a rather unfortunate task--not even self-appointed, sadly. But what is not sad is that you are reading this. You are thinking. We are connecting. And change is now imminent.
My best for a happy, health, courageous, prolific, and profitable 2010!