A Radical Idea

Now I’m not about to pontificate like some hippy guru coming down from her cabin in the Vermont mountains, but please, take a look at the picture below. That’s our universe. It’s where we live. See how small we are?  See how absolutely minuscule our existence is in the grand scheme of things? We’re pretty much a drop in the bucket and that’s being generous.

I don’t mean to say this to be depressing. Quite the opposite, truth be told. It’s supposed to be a reminder that before we get livid over political differences, religious beliefs, or even just the people who cut in front of us in traffic, we should remember that we’re really sort of insignificant in this vast web of gases and atoms.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be involved in what’s going on in our world today, especially politically speaking (goodness knows, we have to be now, more than ever), or that we should give up on our faith to placate someone else… what I am saying however, is that when it comes to arguing with strangers online or with Uncle John at the next family dinner — neither of whom will be listening anyway, because they’re so entrenched in their own mindset — maybe rethink your participation in an argument that will only serve to create stress and anxiety for you and will likely end up being more of a name-calling contest than a civil debate anyway.

Instead of getting enraged, how about we just focus on being nice to each other? That’s it — just be nice. Pretty simple, right?  I just think that as we rotate around our gargantuan sun that in itself is part of an unimaginably vast galaxy within an inconceivable array of other galaxies (with the potential of other dimensions that could be just as large), let’s just try to make the ride a little more pleasant for each other.

And let’s not include just humans in that concept – include animals, too.  Be nice to other living creatures.  I mean, really, how hard is that?  When you sit down and think about it, it just seems like the most logical thing to do.

However, I know it will never happen on a large scale because we’re human after all, and something as simple as “being nice” would just never work for our species as a whole. It’s beyond us, which is sad, really. But imagine what we could accomplish if we could pull off this amazing yet simplistic feat!  The issues that could be settled and the problems that could be resolved are boundless.

So maybe we start small.  Maybe smile at that neighbor who is always grumpy or hold the elevator for that person who is obviously late.  Perhaps throw some food to the stray you usually shoo away.  Or give some change to the homeless person you always try to ignore as you make your way to work.  Maybe realize that your kids can have a bad day too so you ignore the half-made bed that would normally spawn a lecture, and instead pull out a family board game.  It should all be so easy, really.

And the craziest part of this hare-brained idea is that the world, which is already so overwhelmed with stress and worry, would actually become a better place, allowing for less and less stuff to be stressed and worried about.  I know….ironic, right?

My Introvert Life – Log Entry 52745

Stardate 20170410 – Time: When Everyone Else Seems To Be Doing Stuff Too

Despite my better judgement, but driven by hunger and lack of rations, I ventured out into the world today.

Triple-checked and, yup, had everything I needed to buy for the week in my shopping cart. All ready to check out. Approaching the cashier, I saw someone I know in line. Someone who talks a lot and seems to know everything. Every. Thing.

Hmmm…

…oh right, almost forgot, there were a few more items I needed to get for that thing I was going to make one day.

Pulled a U-turn and disappeared down an aisle.

Another crisis averted.

 

 

Into the Fray

I belong to several different online groups, especially on Facebook. They’re mostly book clubs, classic movie fan sites, and vintage photo connoisseurs. I’ve noticed that, especially in one of the vintage photography groups, people are becoming unnecessarily mean and argumentative. In this group, anyone can post pictures of anything vintage, whether it’s their family, celebrities, locations, etc. Someone posted a photo of Doc Holliday and “Big Nose Kate,” his girlfriend/wife, and there were people – you’d think it would be just men, but women as well – who jumped in to immediately say how much Kate looked like a man in a dress (she didn’t) and of course the comments spiraled out of control from there. Good grief! This Hungarian-born, frontier woman has been dead for 77 years. Let it rest.

In the same group, a controversial photo of Billy the Kid was displayed. It’s been authenticated, but some historians still have their doubts, which I won’t get into here. Still, it was as if some of the group’s members had been personally attacked or offended or perhaps had some vested interest in the origins of this photo for all the rage and insulting comments they were throwing out…directed at the photo, the original poster, as well as to those who mentioned, correctly I might add, that the photo had indeed been authenticated and even insured, controversy within the industry notwithstanding.  Nothing is as irksome as self-appointed vintage photo police.

Photos will be posted of family members and people will scream “Photoshop!” even though the photo is obviously old and photoshopping didn’t exist then. While it’s possible the photo was manipulated in the dark room all those 100’s of years ago, who the hell cares?  In any case, it’s the person’s family, so they would probably know if it was accurate or not. People will post old Victorian spirit pictures (which are well-known to be faked) and the commenters jump on those too – screaming, “fake, fake, fake!” As if no-one else had any idea and they are exposing some modern-day fraud. These Visual Vigilantes attack the original poster and anyone else who voices a positive opinion of simply liking the photo or thinking that it’s “cool,” or complimenting the dark-room work, regardless of whether it’s real or not.

Now I know the Internet, and Facebook in particular, is a breeding ground for arguments, but it has become increasingly apparent to me that people will indeed argue about anything and everything. However, it’s amazing to me that in a group that is supposed to be all about simple, innocuous, and light-hearted fun, there are those who cannot contain themselves. It’s as if they MUST be hateful, mean, and argumentative – as if they’ll implode otherwise, by containing all of that vile vitriol…like pressure-cookers left unattended. Or would they explode? Either way, it would be a big mess.

What is wrong with people that they can’t seem to find enjoyment in anything?  Perhaps arguing and being hateful are their forms of enjoyment? If so, our society is going to hell a lot faster than I originally anticipated.

 

 

My Introvert Life – Log Entry 52671

Stardate 20172408 – Time: Too Late to Think About Leaving the House Tomorrow

A dear friend asks if I want to go to a yoga class tomorrow where they heat the room to 100 degrees so you “sweat it out” as you meditate on life.  Supposed to be good for the soul.

My answer? Namaste…from my couch where I’ll be watching Netflix and eating crackers.

My Introvert Life – Log Entry 52491

Stardate 20170908 – Time: Way Too Early

Accept the fact that it’s morning.

Remember that human interaction is not just likely, but necessary on this day.

Consider all possible alternatives to said human interaction.

Outlook bleak.

Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Suck it up and look in the mirror.

More coffee…quickly.

Attempt looking presentable to outside world.

Remind myself not to kill anyone.

Open door.

Brace for impact.

Restoration of Faith

I can’t even talk about the very serious ways in which our world, or at least my country, is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s disconcerting to say the least. But I will say this – my faith was somewhat restored this afternoon by what was likely considered a small thing by those involved, but which, to this observer at least, indicated in a huge way that compassion is not dead and people (at least some of them) are good.

Our neighborhood Walgreens is across a median strip and two lanes from the McDonald’s.  You can get to each store from the other by driving directly across, or you can go to our grocery store by pulling down one of the lanes dividing the two stores. That probably didn’t help you envision the lay of the land, but hey, I tried.

Having left the Walgreens with a much-needed upgrade on migraine medication, I was sitting in my car before pulling out of the parking spot when I saw a car in one of the driving lanes by the median strip with a young, very awkward, very thin but presentable looking white man (maybe 18 or 20) trying to push his car into the McDonald’s or into the Walgreens, just anywhere but where it was. There was a person in the driver’s seat doing the steering, although they seemed confused as to what to do, which didn’t help matters.

The young boy’s shoe fell off while he was ineffectively pushing his car, and as he struggled to put it back on – while making sure the car did not back over him – it was revealed that he had some kind of a splint on his leg…it had come off with his shoe. So here he is, desperately trying to push his car…with all of the embarrassment I’m sure, that goes along with a broken-down car, while having issues with his leg or foot. I felt badly and quite helpless given I am completely useless, and my heart went out to him over his predicament.

Then came the first hero of the day in the form of a black man, in his 40’s maybe, obviously dressed for an office job (slacks, button down shirt, tie, nice jacket) who had been walking from his car into the McDonald’s.  He rushed, and by that I mean he RAN, over to the boy, said a few words, then leaned into the car and said a few words, and then took his place at the back of the car and the two started to heave against it…this time in a direct line for the McDonald’s. There’s an incline there, so they were still having a hard time getting the car to go…when lo and behold, our second hero of the day made an appearance.

This one was slightly more surprising given my rural area, as he was a “hipster” in full “hipster” garb from his well thought out haircut to his lumberjack beard, right down to his cuffed jeans and black boots. He SPRINTED from the adjoining grocery store parking lot to join in pushing the car – and with his help, the three were successful in getting it out of the way and actually into a parking space.  All’s well that ends well as they say. And I was glad.

I was glad to see the boy helped out of a mortifying and difficult situation, and it was indeed heartening to see those two men come to his aid so quickly and with such eagerness to assist – when clearly no-one else was going to and no-one else did.

Oh, I still have a cynical outlook on our society as a whole and especially those leading it. But today…well, today showed me there is hope after all. Hope is surely a good thing.

Reflections of the Road

Mankind has invented many horrendous torture devices throughout his stay on this earth.  A few that come to mind are those virtually invisible Bluetooth phone earpieces that cause you to assume the user is talking to you but of course they’re not – only you don’t realize this until after you’ve already held a 5 minute conversation with yourself, those automated voice response systems on help lines that force you to say words until you are screaming at a robot which only makes things worse…both for your self-esteem and getting the department you so desperately need which is why you called in the first place, and self-checkout lanes with overly sensitive scales that proudly announce to everyone that you have an unexpected item in the bagging area…a dozen times.

No other device, however, can cause as much horror, anger, embarrassment, and fear as a car horn in a traffic jam. I. Hate. Car. Horns.

The victim of the car horn is usually some unsuspecting person who ended up on the wrong side of a red light, trapped in an intersection with nowhere to go while the traffic he is blocking begins playing the well-known symphony, “The Cacophony of Horns,” on their steering wheels.  The victim has few options and can either respond with the “embarrassed grimace, hands thrown up in helplessness” ploy or the famous “I need to change my radio station right now for the next five minutes while pretending I can’t hear you” trick. And it’s not as if the hapless victim wants to be doing what he’s doing…he doesn’t want to be there either.

The other day found me in a particularly crowded shopping district.  Things were rolling pretty smoothly and I could see the lights lining up in perfect harmonious greenness.  Gotta love it when small miracles happen.  Imagine my surprise when, instead of rolling through this rare alignment of roadway perfection, I found myself reading the bumper stickers on the car in front of me as we all sat at a complete stop.

From where I was sitting, I could see the green light in front of me. There was more than enough time for the cars to siphon through.  The light just beyond my own, the next one in line that you might think would be holding up traffic, was also green, and still we sat.  It really only ever takes one person to wreck your traffic day, and I am sure there was someone daydreaming of God knows what behind the wheel or more likely, talking on their cell phone that was snarling the smooth flow of cars.  The sea of cars stretched through the intersection creating a virtual parking lot at a line of green lights.

I can easily imagine the actions of the drivers in the middle when the inevitable happened and the light turned yellow.  First, they threw their hands up and made a show of yelling something at the cars in front of them. They exaggeratedly leaned over to peer up at the now yellow light, and then to their companion, if they had one, with a show of complete exasperation.  The light turned red, as yellow lights do, and now they were stuck.

These hapless drivers were now in the Traffic Trap of Doom.  Packed in tight, they couldn’t pull to the side, they couldn’t move forward, and backing up was not an option.

The drivers who were trying to cross the road to get to the shopping center on the other side (a joke about a chicken comes to mind, but I digress) take this as a personal assault on their driving freedoms.  The rally cry of “Let’s wait patiently for the light to turn green so the traffic jam can clear up” rang forth.  Ok, not hardly. Wait for the light to change?  Who has time for that?

The honking started innocently, as it always does.  A single frustrated tap from an unknown car to the left.  Like a wolf pack on the prowl, that honk was taken up by another driver.  And another.  And another.  Soon, the symphony lifted to the sky and magically, nothing happened.

Not a thing.  Despite their best attempts, traffic was still sitting exactly where it was before they started their raucous assault on those of us with ears.  The hard lesson learned this day was that a car horn does not summon a traffic fairy to come lift cars out of the way, no matter how loud and long you blare it.  Did the honkers expect that their efforts would somehow create an opening, like Moses parting the Red Sea?  The only thing these frustrated drivers accomplished was to give everyone a headache.

The victims in the Traffic Trap of Doom continued to pretend they couldn’t hear the honking, cheeks flushed with embarrassment, silent prayers lifted to the traffic light gods that the light would change soon and their five minutes of fame would be over.

Normally I would be just as frustrated as the next person to see a blocked intersection, but in this case, I could see from my position that there was no way the stuck drivers should have expected the cars ahead at the first green light to just stop.  It wasn’t a matter of mistimed lights or people pushing to get through a yellow light. They saw the alluring vision of two green lights ahead and assumed they would shortly be moving forward, flowing as smoothly as the rum they would later be pouring into their coffee as they retold the harrowing experience to their family later that night.  It’s a natural assumption.

Who knew a distracted driver could back traffic up into the next state just by glancing at Map Quest or porn or whatever it was he was doing up there?

Of course, it didn’t stay backed up for long.  The distracted driver got his shit together, and life resumed normally for all involved.

The horn blowers duly patted themselves on the back for the role they played this day; for without them, however would we have survived?

Well played, anonymous horn blowers.  Well played.  We thank you.

Sanity Reclaimed

Sometimes just one happy thing can make up for a long, tedious, “want to kill everyone in my path” week. You know how you have those weeks? Yeah, well. My sanity has been reinstated by a small, fluffy, four-legged stranger. If only everything about life was this easy. We spent but a brief time in my backyard together as I kept him warm and sheltered snuggled and hopefully, not afraid…and then his parents came and I discovered my newfound friend was somewhat of an escape artist. Oh, such a dagger to the heart. Here I thought he was a lost soul. Then again…perhaps, just perhaps, he’s sort of like Batman. Instead of simply escaping, which really, just trivializes his amazing capabilities, he answers the call of those in need of a cold nose, floppy ears, and a waggly tail to brighten their day – or maybe (and I’m just spitballing here), he uses his profound cuteness to adorabalize his target into submission – to sap their deep, if temporary, desire for inflicting an “Earth shattering kaboom” on their fellow-man – some of their fellow-men at least. In which case, he is indeed very, very good at his job, I must say.

elf-and-dog