Shiny, Happy People

We are experts at hiding in adulthood. Remember as a kid when you were new to hide-and-seek, choosing the most obvious places, yet your parents played along anyway? I find it so easy to love kids because they are an open book. Why is it that as adults we pretend to be strong, yet lack the courage to be honest even with ourselves?

Admit it. You’ve been “leaving it at the door” in order to survive work for so long, somewhere along the way you started forgetting to pick it back up again after your shift.

When we get comfortable behind our masks, the darkest variety of lost finds us. Let me clarify, if I may. There are many ways to become lost.

There is the free-spirited, road-trip way in which you make yourself (wink, wink) lost but have all the tools in the car to get unlost when you decide you need a burger.

There is the “oops, I made a left when I should have made a right” but you know if you just turn around you can retrace your steps and get back on the right path.

And then there is the “I am SURE this is the right way”, it’s midnight, your passenger is terrified because she knows that about 8 miles back you already said that and now all she can make out through the rain are glowing eyes and the occasional shadow of a tree.

This is what I have dubbed the no-street-lights-dirt-road-downpouring-dead-phone lost.

This variety of lost sneaks up after too much time and effort in “keeping it together” for the greater good (or however else we justify it). For those who watch you because they care, it is blatantly obvious. And they are worried. Not angry, mind you, because it’s clear to anyone in your corner that you have the best intentions. (Well, your kids are angry, but only because life is much simpler to them. You screwed up, they are hungry. Find a gas station NOW or it’s about to get ugly.) But your peers and elders are not angry. They are genuinely terrified because about 10 yards in front of you, they foresee trauma.

And, by the way, your tank is empty.

When did we become so busy that we no longer have time for one another? When did our kids become so much more important than our friends and family? Is there really so little time that we can’t reach out to one another anymore? What is the point of giving emotional support to our children if, as adults, we have created a world where nobody has time to offer support? Are we not setting them up for failure and disappointment? Is it really the best idea to allow kids to believe the world revolves around them?

There is great sacrifice in the earnest search of balance. The sacrifice is in spending more time at home face-to-face with loved ones and less time at events, in front of the television, on the phone, or running errands. The balance comes from making time for those in our lives we claim to love, not just for their sake, but so that our kids can learn the tools needed to maintain and nurture relationships. Because, let’s be honest: trophies are great and all, but when your child reaches his thirties and has been more consumed with winning than with loving, who will be there to join in his glory?

It seems so simple. And, frankly, I’m tired of stating the obvious.

When we walk in the door, this is the time to grow together with those who share our space, regardless of location or circumstance. Life’s balancing act isn’t about the constant bustle of to-dos and where-tos. It’s about the deep belief in and upholding of a value that has to do with acting as part of a community at the expense of our own desires.

Is it important to be professional? Keep it together so as not to freak out our kids? Yes, and often.

But there is also a time to get real with what is truly happening in the lives of those around us and to stay connected enough to get to the root of a problem before it spirals out of control. And at the expense of our to-do list.

As adults it’s important to have friends. Not work friends. Not the kind we call friends on Facebook but only see once a year. I’m talking about pick-up-the-phone, there-when-you-need-me, rain or shine friends. You know, the real kind.  The kind we had in school that would sit up all night talking about the meaning of life, relating and connecting over rough childhoods, etc. The kind with whom we promised never to lose touch. The kind that will notice when something is wrong and get in our faces when they see us taking a dangerous path.

I’ve learned that the more connected I am with personal friendships, the more connected I am at work, with my daughter, and with myself. I’m concerned that we have become a community of mistrusting, narcissistic, busy individuals. Busy with what exactly?

Collectively we’re falling apart. To criticize others has become natural, whereas to speak up and say “good job” or “how are you?” (and mean it!) is rare. Why is gossip so acceptable? When did we stop giving one another the benefit of the doubt and replace it with pointing the finger to distract from our own shortcomings?

Oh, life is just so crazy busy. You understand.

No. I really don’t.







One thought on “Shiny, Happy People

  1. My perception is that if I care deeply about someone and am concerned about him or her, I avoid ‘getting in their face.’ Due to my past ‘fuck-ups’ in doing so. It usually results in the person distancing themselves from me because too much honesty just isn’t cool, requires immediate change, and makes me feel little and dirty. There’s subtler means of communicating, as far as I perceive. I don’t want any self righteous friend getting in my face for any reason.

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