Howdy, y'all. Just kidding. That's me doing a British accent, doing a southern accent.
Cheeky. At least I enjoy myself.
This one is only slightly longer, but with more scrolling due to shorter lines.
Love season is coming.
I'm sure you saw Valentines replace the Christmas aisles back on December 26.
Alas, gone are the days where the overstock of holiday socks and kitchen towels were left in a dwindling pile in the back of the store, rummaged by mothers and nanas while their families went back to school and work.
I relied on that pile. All of my kitchen towels are holiday- and winter-themed.
I may have to pay full price next year.
I digress. I'm doing that quite a lot today.
Watch as my thoughts swirl, and cycle back...meander.
I love Love.
My heartbrain craves seeing it, either in front of me or on a screen.
I'm not talking about physical touch or attraction even. That's a different kind of feeling.
I love kindness, thoughts for others, and a show of love by action.
Broken down even further: eye contact and communication.
I adore it.
I'm not sure how much I was aware of true love before I birthed my children.
Not that there was a magical veil of entry, where my eyes were opened.
Truly, every waking and sleeping moment was suddenly about and for someone else.
There definitely was a compulsion to not screw them up.
To not screw up love.
My examples of love had not been ideal.
So MY love had to be.
My parenting perspective of, "Don't mess this up!" blended with an uber-religious lens of being "Perfect."
This combination failed to result in ideal love.
I used to think, "It's a good thing my kids are resilient."
Now I realize that whatever attention, affection, or physical care I gave them was absolutely enough.
The vision of love I held for a long time did not make me or those around me happy.
Which is okay.
Hmm, is that the basis behind most dysfunctional relationships?
Loving the wrong way?
Is any hurt intentional?
Unfortunately, yes. YES.
There are those who really do want to hurt others intentionally.
They may or may not feel guilty afterwards.
Psychopaths make up only 1% of humans.
That's the male estimate.
(I generally set stats next to autism percentages, just for comparison. It's a measuring device permanently installed in my head.
2.2% of US citizens are diagnosed with autism. Which leads me to at least double that, since many are undiagnosed.)
My point is, it is rare to not feel any guilt.
Can non-psychopaths condition themselves to feel less guilt? Yes.
Can those actively conditioning themselves to feel less guilt buffer their feelings with alcohol and/or drugs, gambling, food, sex, money or acquisitions? Yes.
Nobody likes to feel bad.
I prefer to view the anti-feel-badness as a self-love brain response.
Is it possible to build a life based on love, after having a previous love-lack base?
It absolutely is possible.
I would argue, it is necessary for a better world. It's certainly necessary for a calmer mind.
(Stay with me. I'm almost there.)
How do WE ALL prevent a love-based humanity?
Thoughts of, "I can't."
And thoughts of, "You can't."
So, minimum baseline: we have to stop ourselves when we think, "I can't."
Kindly stop yourself, please. Beating yourself into submission never works.
"I can't forgive you."
"I can't imagine a better relationship."
"I can't change."
"I can't accept your changes."
Minimum baseline, we have to stop ourselves when we think, "They can't."
"They can't vote, or we'll lose."
"They can't voice their opinion that way."
"They can't threaten our freedom."
"They can't talk to me that way."
Do you feel that? It is so negative.
Like pants the day after Christmas.
I want to wash the world.
Wipe away tears and anger and frustration and resentment.
I want this because I know how it can feel, to change your feelings and create a day that is more hopeful.
You may think me a Pollyanna.
I certainly am not.
But I can be Pollyanna-ish whenever I decide to.
Of course there are things I want to mourn over. I want to feel bad when it is appropriate.
I do feel sad.
And lonely at times.
I want to be a person who feels remorse and guilt.
I don't want to be a psychopath.
But, I don't want to feel these things longer than is good for me.
Wallowing is optional.
Love, also optional, is healing.
Allow your mind to dance a little.
Shake things up in there.
Rearrange the files and sort.
Purge what is no longer needed for you to be happy and functional.
I've had many conversations with friendly folks who want to sort and purge their closets and drawers in the same way.
But few of us understand: our closets are a reflection, a mirror of our thoughts. Our mind manifests in our belongings.
And maybe you can't do one without the other.
A good place to start is with where you left things.
Practice leaving your keys in the same bowl or on the same hook. It brings peace when you are looking for them next time.
Practicing turning off the light in a left room saves money and polar bears.
Practicing leaving a conversation with kindness and appreciation gives you a good start the next time you see each other.
Not all interactions can end with kindness and love.
Brain pretzel: can we have love for psychopaths?
Do psychopaths deserve love, kindness or respect because they are alive?
Even here, we might land in different places.
Institutions for community safety are necessary, of course.
Our choice to love others does not dismiss our safety.
Because we love ourselves first.
Too ideal still?
Okay, then back the truck up.
Take an intermediate step.
Start with you. What would it look like to really love and appreciate you?
Then go out into the community from there.
Start something great. Perhaps it will catch on?
Today's Deep Breath: a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
I am in a mild state of disbelief about the year number.
That's all it is, a number.
2021...how? When did this happen?
I was born in the late '60s, a time of war, political division, and assassinations to halt progress. Smithsonian describes 1968 as, "the year that shattered America."
Others: a tumultuous turning point.
I was seeded in month ten of that year.
Am I flavored by this?
Of course. We are seasoned by our environment.
This was the right time for me to come along, because I did. It is never helpful to argue with reality.
What I choose to think about my timing on this planet, through the mother that birthed me and the parents that adopted me is this: that's exactly how it was supposed to happen, because it did.
Now what? What to do with this life, this time?
We can now validly call this decade the '20s.
Doesn't the '20s refer to the Roaring? Bathtub gin and jazz bands...
This brain is just taking a pause.
Zoom back to now:
We are still at war, our longest ever. We have been at war for the last 20 years, initiated by the US, with no end in sight.
As citizens, we merely lift an eyebrow when we hear of murders framed as suicides or missing people in politics.
I don't think we are past feeling, but we are not surprised enough by murders, wars and political nastiness.
It's been our normal.
Our passion lies in our own lives. We attempt to focus on the bits we can control.
What do we listen to on our commute, podcast or music?
Netflix or Hulu?
Chinese or pizza?
Look, I have no answers. No Shoulds for the masses.
I tried that in the past.
I was so hopeful that a march with a well-designed sign or a peaceful protest would affect change.
But it doesn't. Not directly.
My actions do not effectively cause others to change their behavior. They may have to pivot, just a smidge, but they are going to do what they are going to do. It's not my choice.
Others get to choose how they think, feel and act--though they may have less awareness around how they get there.
Yes, when armed citizens storm the capitol to try to stop a ceremony finalizing a completed and counted national presidential vote, those working in law enforcement will react. The results did not change.
Except that those politicians who were resisting the reality of the vote pulled up short in order to not be associated with the armed mob.
There is a reaction. Call it a consequence.
A lot of these decisions are already made, by the laws laid down before. Or the power behind the contemporary closed curtains of all political parties and international corporations.
There is a framework that was built in advance.
Let's reach a little, out there where it is a smidge uncomfortable, and create new, beautiful ways of looking at things.
Share that. Share your love and hope, and watch it spread.
"(What A) Wonderful World," was released in 1960, with original song lyrics written by Sam Cooke.
"What A Wonderful World," in 1967, written by George David Weiss and Bob Theile, sung by Louis Armstrong, released after race riots and anti-war protests. Re-released in 1988. Grammy Hall of Fame: 1999.
Engelbert Humperdinck, 1968.
Ambrose Seelos, 1969.
The Heptones, 1976.
The Flaming Lips, 1990.
Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwo'ole, 1990 and 2011.
Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan, 1992.
Willie Nelson, 1996.
Eva Cassidy, 1996 and 2007.
Joe Pesci, 1998.
Kenny G, 1999.
Anne Murray, 1999.
Michael Buble, 2001.
Beat Box, 2001.
The Ramones (Joey,) 2002.
Tony Bennett & K.D. Lang, 2002.
Sarah Brightman, 2003.
John Legend, 2004.
Celine Dion, 2004.
LeAnn Rimes, 2004.
Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder, 2004.
Stacey Kent, 2007.
Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra, 2007.
Ziggy Marley, 2010.
Robert Wyatt, 2010.
Alison Mosshart, The Forest Rangers, 2011.
D. Johnson, 2012.
Chris Botti, 2012.
Gloria Estefan, 2013.
One Republic, 2014.
Pablo Lopez, 2014.
Barry Manilow & Louis Armstrong, 2014.
Tiago Iorc, 2015.
Susann Boyle, 2016.
Gilbert Gil, 2018.
Jon Batiste, 2018.
Rhap Salazar, 2018.
AG X Reuben and the Dark, 2019.
Kina Grannis & Imaginary Future, 2020.
Shawn Mendes, 2020.
This is just a partial list of the releases of this song that brings me so much joy, I use it for my phone alarms.
Many thanks to you, Sam Cooke.