It has been a few days since I have been available to write. I am now home from my visit to Boston with my daughter and granddaughter. I loved seeing Boston with my daughter and have odd moments with my granddaughter who is in school at Brandeis. She and her assortment of roommates are a fun and brilliant crew. The way they are heading into the future is so vastly different than when I was their age. I hope that many groups of students think the way they do.
Ecology is critical to them. All of them are vegetarian or vegan. They care greatly about others and have compassion for those who suffer. I hope that this state of mind can flower and spread.
My generation was so consumer oriented. It bothers me to realize how much we raped the earth with little thought. It wasn’t a conscious thing but we just didn’t think that resources were limited. It seemed that there was an abundance…..and there was at the time. Now we have come to understand the consequences of taking without replacing. Native Americans (who I have now seen some call themselves First Nations) have a much closer link to the earth and understand how we are all connected.
We all need to learn to live differently. So many today see having more is important: a bigger house, more cars, more money….just more, more, more. The truth is that none of those things matter. People are what matter and community is key. When I am gone I wish to be remembered as one who loved.
A friend of mine told me today that she is moving to be near her daughter. She feels that since she is aging it would be best to be near her daughter. She is moving to an independent living place. We talked about this major change in her life.
As we age there are many changes that come to us. We don’t think about this until we are at least in our sixties. We begin to realize that there may come a time when we can’t stay where we are. In the past when families lived near each other this was not such a major change. Now it seems that our children grow up and move away and we not longer have family where we are. I don’t look forward to having to leave my home but know it is a possibility. We all hope that we will age gracefully and maintain our independence but it doesn’t always happen.
Most of our lives are spent acquiring. We acquire spouses, children, homes, furniture and lots of other stuff. As we age we begin to divest ourselves. The next home may have to be much smaller and things will have to go. Children have moved away and have different lives although they are faithful.
The thing about divesting yourself is it’s the little things that get you. My friend has saved cards sent to her that are special and she is deciding let them go or not? It’s these kinds of choices that break us. The mementos of life….they carry so much meaning and to part with them is painful.
Sometimes when I think about this it’s as if most of life we have been on the way up and suddenly we are going downhill way too quickly. It is a difficult time. Maybe losing health, sight, hearing, and friends is too much. We are lucky if we are able to keep active until God takes us home.
I have often thought about the difference between “feeling sorry for” and “feeling compassion for.” We can feel sorry for someone but it puts us in an us and them mode. We are outside the situation and see it from a distance. We are not really involved.
Compassion is a totally different things. When we are feeling compassion we can feel the pain of the other person. We are involved. We are connected.
When we have been through a similar experience, such as losing a loved one, we know how that is. We have had some of the same feelings and hopefully have come out the other side. This is not a time, however, to offer advice. When people need our compassion they just need someone to be in the same place. Listening, touching (if appropriate), being present in the moment are the most important things.
God uses our stressful experiences by given us the compassion to help others. Compassion is healing for us and others.
In a previous post I mentioned reading the book Tribes. I have noticed lately that I am secure enough in myself to agree or disagree with someone. I have felt that way about the last few things that I have read.
Years ago I read a book about the PTSD that is being seen in our returning soldiers that was excellent. Being married to a military man (his first career) the book clarified for me many things that had changed in the handling of military personnel and that the changes were not good.
In the book Tribes the author suggests that if people who suffer from PTSD were integrated back into a loving community environment that it would be easier for them to recover. I am sure there is truth to this. Being accepted is critical to our well being. However, the way soldiers have been handled in Iraq and Afghanistan has created more stress than in previous wars. I think the PTSD is more severe than we have seen before.
Recovering from any traumatic event causes PTSD. If the event is sudden and ends quickly recovery is usually easier. Any of us have a big physical response to trauma. All of our fight or flight responses are activated with some major physical changes. Major amounts of Adrenalin are released, our heart rate increases, blood to areas of the body not needed is reduced and brain is super alert. This is what is supposed to happen in the short term but suppose you are in this mode over a long period of time. The body is physically stressed to the point where it is difficult to recover.
So what made this happen to our soldiers? In previous wars there was a front……an area where the fighting took place and units were rotated back from the front for rest and time to come down from the high. In the last wars there has been no front and soldiers are in danger no matter where they are. They are never free from the adrenaline rush. There is no place to rotate them to for rest. During Viet Nam soldiers served (usually) one year and knew that they would be rotated home at the end of that time. They were usually away from battle for at least two years before being sent back. (If at all) Many of the prime units used in recent times have been at war for an undetermined length of time. (usually shorter than before) They were brought home and may be sent back in a few months. Some of them 4 or 5 times or more. The time away from battle has not been long enough for any sort of recovery. This information is not hearsay. I have personal knowledge of this.
Having said all of this I know that the writer of the Tribe is correct is saying that recovery is better if there is integration into a community. Unfortunately, for most of the sufferers there is no community awaiting them. Many can’t find a job or have any major support system. Their trauma has also been so much more severe than previous cases we haven’t really learned how we can help. Work is being done but maybe too little, too late.
Wow! I really needed to say all of that! It has bothered me for a while.
Anxiety and stress and difficult for any of us to handle. How much more so if we were exposed to life threatening events over a long period and then expected to return to normal over night.
It seems to me that in today’s world no one is to blame for anything. Somehow the faeries made things happen. Society lets us get away with this. In the US someone sued McDonald’s for burning themselves with hot coffee. I ask you….don’t you want your coffee hot? Wouldn’t you be careful to not spill knowing this? Yet they were at fault. There is always a they.
I wish I could take they along with me every day. It would be nice to be able to say “they” did it!’
The trouble is this blaming someone else has really gotten out of hand. The caution labels on products are insane! “Do not let your hair dryer fall into the water in your sink. Shock may ensue.” I am not sure if we are stupid or smart. Stupid not to know better but smart to find a way to blame someone and get remuneration for our ignorance.
This is bad enough but parents have taken this to heart and their children can do no wrong. If something happened in school it is the fault of a teacher or another child. If my mother was sent a note home about me she immediately assumed the culprit was me. She would listen to my explanation but usually felt the teacher was right. (and teacher usually was right)
The problem is that we are raising a generation who are never responsible for their actions. They have been saved from consequences every time. If we don’t learn what happens if we do something wrong early on then we learn it later….usually with more dire results. They are surprised to end up in jail. I am distressed and angered by girls who bullied another girl to the point where she committed suicide. They have simply not learned that actions have consequences.
We must all teach, from our own experiences, what happens when things go wrong. Science says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Children (all of us!) need to learn this and soon!
Why is life today so stressful? I don’t remember it being like this when I was younger. I don’t know if the world has changed or I have. Probably both. Instead of hearing local news we hear news from everywhere and the focus is on the sad, tragic, violent and horrible things. Seldom do we hear about something nice. The one good thing to come out of the recent disasters from hurricanes to earthquakes has been the stories of people helping each other.
I have been listening to the book The Tribe by Sebastian Junger. I have ordered the book. It is interesting to find something that follows my own thinking so closely. If you have read any of my previous posts you know I am concerned about how disconnected we all are. There are many reasons why that is so. People move for jobs away from family. Very few people live in towns small enough to know most everyone. Both parents work changing the family dynamic. Communication has changed from primarily face to face to email, internet, social media, and texting. A lot of people do not know and may not have seen their next door neighbor. Our circle of people has grown exponentially smaller. Most of us do not have a wider community that we belong to. As I have said before this may one of the most critical aspects of a church if it is truly a community.
This loss of community has removed the glue that we need to hold ourselves together. There is no way of knowing (since there is no data) if the incidence of anxiety, depression and related problems was as high when we were more communal. My suspicion is that it was not.
Here in the USA we rush from task to task. People work longer hours and get less pats on the back. We are accessible 24/7. I wonder why everyone isn’t anxious. Maybe those of us who are are the ones who get it.
If you suffer from anxiety etc. try a find a community where you can be accepted and find belonging. I have the feeling it will help.
I read an article recently that talked about intuition. Something was said about how little intuition is respected. I think intuition is a good barometer and we should pay attention to it. An intuition is not necessarily a bad gauge to go by. There may be a compilation of experiences and learning that are prompting it and not just some feeling. It is like making soup. If there is just one ingredient it may not be any good but the combination of all the things we put in make it wonderful. All those things meld together to jog something in our brain.
People who are concerned with provable facts don’t think there is anything to intuition. It is often scoffed at….especially as women’s intuition. One of the things I did as a nurse was to have classes for young children called the Touch Program. The program was to tell young children that there can be good touch such as hugging and bad touch like being fondled inappropriately. The children were told to be aware of a bad feeling in the pit of their stomach. A gut feeling. Young children understood this. Those who reported abuse could usually tell you that something felt wrong.
As you can tell I am sure that intuition is a useful tool. Sometimes it can be wrong but most frequently it is right on target and women are not the only ones who use it.