I was at a parenting conference where I was slated to speak. It was in between sessions and my portion was just about to begin. Everyone was mulling around in the hallway, having the cookies and coffee and what-not that are left out on the table by the hotel.
There was a woman eyeballing me and making her way over. Her face seemed very firm. Just the way she was looking at me was already stirring up some very uncomfortable feelings. She appeared maybe angry?
As she got to me, she didn't even introduce herself. Just started in with, "May I ask you a question before you begin your talk?"
I replied, "Yes, of course."
To which she said, "What are your thoughts on Syria?"
Just like that. And she said it with all the cutting judgement as though to say, "I will determine right now what I think you're worth, and that will help me decided just how much to listen to, and absorb, your little talk. Because you look more like a person who has been talking about Miley Cyrus all week."
It didn't end there. What happened next is actually why I'm writing.
I started to immediately think in my head, "How can I answer her in a completely vague way so that she feels satisfied, but I also appear intelligent?" And I did. I bull crapped my way through an answer that led her to believe what is true. I care deeply about international issues. I did not play the I'm-parenting-trauma-and-this-week-had-me-too-buried-to-read-the-news card. I needed? her to see me in a certain light. I wanted her to hear what else I had to say, and I wanted her to respect me.
As I remembered all of this as I sat sipping on my coffee, I felt sickened. Because here's the truth: I have not caught up on Syria. I haven't. But I have watched Miley Cyrus' performance all the way through. Twice.
And that is okay. I know that, but I also still struggle like the rest of you. I have a deep desire to always appear intelligent, well-versed, correct and always deeply intertwined with social justice issues of any kind. The truth is I'm not. I'm not always intelligent, well-versed, correct and in-the-know of things abroad (by the standards of many).
Because I can't be. I'm a human being.
This week, for me, I had two times where watching that tongue and foam finger fit more easily into my head space. The conversations around it were sometimes thought provoking and sometimes entertaining. When I no longer wanted to watch, I stopped watching. When I no longer wanted to read commentary, I stopped reading.
When I read, "Syria is burning!" I did not rush to the news and educate myself. In fact, I avoided it. For me, this week, I could not watch and experience the horrible trauma of others and still be who I needed to be in my home. Maybe next week. Maybe next month. Sure. But not this week. And Miley? I could stomach that. In fact, in some ways, I craved it. It wasn't a mindless topic (the conversations around sexuality, young adulthood and slut shaming have given me plenty to think about). Yet, it did not cross lines that were blaring reminders of why some days are still really challenging around here.
Maybe it seems like my big thought here is that we shouldn't spend time judging what people fixate on. Because we don't know their history, their educational status, their inner triggers. I guess that's true, sure. However, I have spent the morning focusing on my craving to make others view me in a certain way. As smart. Or right.
In my dream, I felt like I was in a beauty pageant, being asked a question while hundreds of people waited on a perfectly formed response. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the process, but participants spend some time keeping up on current events. More than that, though, they are taught to bull crap with finesse. Any public figure who must speak into a microphone regularly is taught the same thing. They have to be taught and trained and they will still say completely raw and real things that they do not want recorded for all time. Because we are all human. None of us are informed all the time. None of us are educated on every subject.
|It's funny, yo.|
And on a different day or week it won't.
In five minutes I may be watching the CNN video of the girl accidentally eating the dandelion when she tries to blow it. Again.
That makes me laugh.
We live in a world where we are constantly measured. There is a massive pressure to always be right. Always be smart (whatever that means). Always peck so we can land nearer to the top. I will not judge my feelings when I fall into this. I can't help how I feel. But it is okay to evaluate why I feel something and definitely evaluate what I do. Do I care about all humans? Is my heart beating for all children? Am I balancing my interest in my immediate circumstances with the entire human race in a healthy way? Yes? Check - check - check! Okay, cool.
Am I placing this expectation on myself because it is right for me and what I am capable of, but understanding that it should not be the expectation for everyone? Check! Okay cool.
It is okay if you are more interested in diving into the Miley Cyrus thing than Syria. Really, that is okay. I do not think it is because you don't care about people dying. Of course you do. I think it is because you are living your life that is standing right in front of you, and you have to find a way to juggle it all in your brain and in your heart.
You are doing a damn fine job.
And so am I.
Foam finger and all.