There is little that gifts perspective as much as experience. And I’ve had experience in spades.
I’m pretty much home-bound with an ill sweetie these days, and have had lots of time to reflect, get frustrated, feel grateful, be sad, be relieved, be worried, and be overwhelmed. In other words, to be human.
Although I was a professional palliative care giver for the best part of a decade, nothing really prepares you for personal crisis. The stress of organization, paperwork and dealing with an over-burdened health care system has been an eye opener.
What life has prepared me for though is clarity with regard to circumstantial right and wrong, and life is nothing if not circumstantial.
As I was rushing to pick up a few groceries yesterday, the cashier tossed a bag on top of my groceries, and then began checking out the next person, who was looking sour-faced and in a hurry. When did we give up our expectation as consumers to have some quality interaction with the businesses that we give our money to? When did every person having a pleasant interaction with someone else become a pain in the ass? Oh, darling, that’s easy, it was when you became an asshole.
Our caring civility has slowly eroded over time Even errands have become unpleasant interactions instead of being instances during the day we exchange kindness with people. We have all become assholes to some extent, consuming, rushing, and being caught up in the necrotic social ideal that the material trumps relationship.
This is part of mid-life clarity. This is part of holding myself to the standard of living and overall health to which I aspire – happiness.
Making my way out of the parking lot of the store yesterday, traffic was impatient with pedestrians and pedestrians with traffic. Everyone assumes that they come first. Which reminds me of a classic Jimmy Buffett question,
Were you born an asshole? Or did you work at it your whole life?
I do believe that no one is born an asshole. I also believe that you have to work at it to be extraordinary at it. You also have to work to be kind, compassionate and engaged with humanity. Perhaps choosing unwisely is the collective tragic comedy on the stage of life.