I've been doing a lot of thinking about, well, actually about a lot of things lately. As I've been working on the deck and other projects. While my hands are busy and my mind is wandering, it wanders lots of places, some good, some I'd just as soon go far, far away.
In these last few days I've done a lot of thinking about respect.
Our world is moving so fast. We've all heard about how time seems to pass faster as we age. Yes, that's part of it, but it's more than that. Our lives are in high gear, time's foot is pushing the pedal to the metal, and when I look out the window, everything is a blur. Do you feel that way? It's is as if time is out of control and hell-bent to get outta here!
People have packed their schedules beyond reason, I think. The "soccer mom syndrome" is the most common example. But it applies to people in many different ways. In general, people are unable to enjoy "down time." The simple pleasures of low lights and classical music for more than a few minutes; a long walk in the woods (or a quiet beach or in a country meadow, etc.) without an iPod in the ear; sitting on the front porch watching birds, cars going past, watching kids play (in fact, children don't play in the front yards like we used to). Even "recreation time" has become, well, not terribly recreational and relaxing, as people have to schedule it AND have specific goals about relaxing!! Hello?? Folks speed from one involvement to another, rather than planning some time between those events so we can drive at, or below, the speed limit and actually look at the scenery along the way. It would appear that having that "down time" is not acceptable anymore. Why has that happened?
And opinions have become, well, like law. What I think about something is the way it is!!! What an egotistical stance! If someone has political convictions, they are unlikely to consider, listen to, wonder about other ideas. A person who follows a certain religious training becomes so entrenched in those ways that allowing others to have different beliefs is threatening, and to learn more about those others becomes almost sinful. And to push people past their self-set boundaries is unthinkable, because forcing people out of their comfort zones becomes volatile. I get the feeling sometimes that folks feel there isn't time to change minds, to learn, to move anywhere but straight ahead into just the limited area allowed by the blinders they wear. And I don't get it.
Do people not have time to waste learning? Listening? Experiencing new things? We should have time to squander.We should allow time with no plans to let new experiences enter our lives. We shouldn't be on a straight-line path, full bore, heading for that pinpoint at the end of our line of sight! What are we doing????
I've chosen to live my life as gently as I can. I confess to have indulged in some of those behaviors. OK, all of them at one time or another. Even now, as I try to relax and enjoy each day, I find "things" getting in the way, things I should do, things I have neglected, things I must do, things, things, things. Yes, those are real and have to be acknowledged. but I try to limit and arrange so that I have a significant time during the day, every day, to simply be.
In doing so, I have thought about how the rush-rush, hurry-hurry has influenced how we interact with each other. In our attempts to get the most out of life, I think we have put clamps on our lives, our time, our minds. We seem to be trying to milk the most out of a handful of things that we have deemed to be utmost important, causing the rest of the stimuli in the world to be shut out. TMI! TMI! TMI, we cry!
And one thing that is utmost in my bag of concerns is how I see many are forgetting a very important part of our relationship with our fellow life-travelers. Respect seems to be missing from many of our interactions, outside of, perhaps, our smallest circle of friends and/or families. I often feel disrespect from others about my opinions, my spirituality, my chosen life path, my experiences.
Recently some friends and I were discussing deodorants. The idea was getting away from the chemically induced concoctions that are available in stores. I asked if they'd tried the crystal stick. One looked at me and almost snarled, "oh, that doesn't work," and continued with their conversation. I was totally taken aback! After I gathered my thoughts again, I said, "Wait a minute. Are you saying that I stink?" Both of them stopped, mouths agape, and the one said, "Well, no, of course not! Why do you say that?" I told her that I've use the crystal stick for years, but she had just said it didn't work, therefore, I assume she meant I smelled bad. I asked her again if she has ever tried it, and she said, "Well, no. But a friend did and said it didn't work."
We don't listen to each other, not really. We are is such a rush to get on with it, that we don't let the other person's words sink in. We plunge ahead with what thoughts was forming while the other person was still talking, not taking into consideration what the other person said! And gawd forbid there should be a three second lapse between what you say before I open my mouth and begin yammering!! We aren't listening, we aren't allowing time for thought, we aren't internalizing what others have to offer.
Think of politics. Is there anyone out there who thinks either side is actually listening to what others are saying? I'm hard pressed to believe it. Rebuttals come so fast that the mind can't have actually absorbed what was said. It's just crazy. We might learn that t"the other side" isn't all evil if we listen and understand more about why they believe as they do. But no .... we too geared up to argue to participate in listening.
Think of religion. Does anyone listen to others to learn what they are about? I'm not suggesting that everyone should be switching religious channels; I'm saying we need to listen to each other so we can understand. We can't respect others beliefs if we don't understand them. It's important to listen, to read, to learn about things in order to have respect. In doing so, most religions are nothing to fear; they are just different. We don't have to buy into them, to follow those practices, but we should be willing to understand and respect.
SLOW DOWN!!! Let's all just slow down, so we can hear what is being said around us and consider other's ideas. Let's slow down so we can see what's around us; we are missing some pretty awesome things in life, in nature, in our fellow life-travelers because we hurry-scurry everywhere. Let's slow down and enjoy life here and now, instead of trying to speed off to the next goal.
I'm glad I'm old. I don't have to rush any more. You go on and rush up the road to your next scheduled whatever, if you want. I respect your right to do so. But as for me, I love seeing, hearing, reading, smelling, feeling and rolling over in the moment. I'll stay here and soak it up, and I'll tell you about it later. Well, if you're listening, of course!