A Rather Unexpected Wake Up Call
I sat down to write this morning, or just now, and was caught up listening to the new Christmas playlist I’d made. So I figured, instead of working on my novel, I’d take the time to enjoy the music a little and write a blog instead. And then up came Chuck Wendig’s blog post of the morning and it left me so completely…well, I don’t even know. I’m sitting here stunned. Moved. You know that feeling when someone says something that stops you from continuing on as the ignoramus that you were? It like you were all happy and ready to move forward, tail in hand, direct line established and then someone walks up, puts a blindfold around your eyes, spins you around about fifteen times and then pushes you forward saying, “There, go find the tail on that donkey now!”
That’s how I feel. Like he spun me around just enough to lose my bearings. To take this life I’m living, that I think I’m pretty okay with, and make me wonder if I’m not seeing things clearly enough. And I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I try to see the world pretty equally, that I try to see things from both sides, have empathy for others. But then you read something like that and wonder, “Am I doing enough?” “Do I really see things from all sides?” “When have I been close-minded and too privileged to see the truth?”
Here is a link to the blog post, for those of you who are curious (Keep in mind, Chuck Wendig swears a lot, which is probably one of the reasons why I like him so much. But for those of you who don’t like that, reader beware.) http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/11/25/on-the-subject-of-cultivating-empathy/
I can see that didn’t hyperlink and I’m not sure if that’s even the way to link it up, or if I’m allowed, but seeing as he will probably never get linked back to me anyways I’m going to do it. It’s a must-read.
It just made me realize how privileged I really am, and in that privilege I wonder if I’m really seeing the world the way it truly is. I wonder if I am truly approaching people with the level of empathy I should. I mean, yes, I will engage in a long-winded conversation concerning people’s rights, I will often try to see a situation from another person’s point of view and I sure as hell will not allow racism or prejudice or sexism go unchecked, at least in my presence.
But is that enough?
What am I doing to change anything? Am I out there, actually seeing those who are less fortunate, truly understanding their situation and trying to help?
That right there is arrogance, is it not? Me thinking myself as privileged in the first place? Who am I to think I’ve got it better than anyone else and yet, I think I do. My kids definitely do. They have never been hungry and not been able to find anything to eat. The only thing they’ve ever wanted is more TV time or the latest electronic upgrade. They’ve never been neglected, abused, or witnessed any of those such things. Right now, I am following my dream and not earning a dime at it because my husband makes enough for the both of us. I have never been the target of racism or prejudice and the only discrimination you could say I’ve experienced is a sexist joke here or there or an inappropriate comment by a boss or coworker. That is all.
That sounds like privilege to me. And I still don’t really know what to do about it, or if there is anything to really do about it. Except one thing…
It’s funny that his post came up today of all days. Because I came to the realization the other day that I haven’t really been living my life. I’ve been living the promise of a life, the promise of something better. Every single day since I can remember my days have been just getting them done until something better comes along. Until…Soon…When…
When my book gets published…
When we have a little more money…
When we are not living in eternal winter…
When my life finally starts….
I have been wasting so much time. This is my life. All of it. It is not a race to get to the top of some mountain after which everything will be downhill. It is not a series of typical, boring days to count down until something more exciting comes along, like a trip or an event or a career. This is it. Every. Single. Day. And I don’t think I’ve ever really acknowledged that. I’ve never really paid attention to the fact that I am so damn lucky to be able to get up every morning in a warm cozy bed, usually to find a nice hot cup of coffee beside me that was left there by an amazing man, to go wake up two crazy kids that make me laugh every day, and to then sit down to do what I love each and every day.
This is it, right now. This is my life. Whether I have accomplished anything or whether I never even got out of my pyjamas. Whether I have the money in my bank account, the house, the plane, the career, the success, or am selling my books on ebay to earn a paycheque. It doesn’t matter because whether I have that or not, I still have to wake up every day and go through the same damn routine and I can either choose to love it and embrace it and take joy in every second of it, or I can wait for something that may never come. Or it may come. Either way, I will still be who I am. My kids will still have their struggles and their joys. My husband will still forget to take out the garbage but never forget to bring me coffee. I will still be punching away at the keyboard, fighting against the urge to surf the internet, play on facebook, or take a nap, whether I have ten bestsellers or none.
This is life. The day to day stuff. And we are so lucky to have it. We are so damn lucky to have those bills and those annoyances and the struggle to get to all the activities on time while worrying about which food is good for you and which food isn’t. Because there are people out there who just worry if they’ll even have food. There are people who walk by an empty bedroom because the child that used to sleep in there no longer does, due to violence or illness or a call to some other place. These problems are nothing compared to what they could be, so we should embrace and find joy in them. And because we are so lucky, because we are so privileged, we need to remember that every time we look at someone else and judge their situation, we are looking at it from behind our rose colored glasses. Rose colored glasses that make it a little harder to understand where someone else is coming from because we’ve never been there. And for that, we are so very, very privileged.
I thought I was not doing enough for others. Originally, that was what was running through my mind when I read Chuck’s (no, we’re not on a first name basis here but I’m going to use it anyway) blog post: What am I doing to help others? And really, the answer is, not as much as I could, that’s for sure. But one thing I can do is really, truly appreciate what I have. Be grateful for all of it, because if I lose sight again of what I have, then I am no better than the ones firing the guns, or raping the children, or beating the elderly. By taking what I have for granted, I am essentially spitting in the faces of all those who are struggling; to get here, to have gotten here, just to get by in their day to day lives. How am I to have empathy for those with less when I can’t even appreciate all that I have?
I am blessed. Truly, truly blessed. And because of that I’m going to try and walk through this world with a little more kindness, a little more empathy, and a hell of a lot more gratefulness.
Thanks, Mr. Wendig, for opening my eyes a little wider.