Friday, 26 December 2014

Do... I know you?

I'm going to try not to think about the correlation between me drinking alcoholic beverages and me writing blog posts.  I gave up drinking for the entire year of 2014.  And also didn't write a single blog post.  This means either a) my amazing intellect runs at such a fast pace that it requires a couple drinks to slow it down to a speed where it can be captured and packaged, or b) my opinions really aren't that profound, but when I'm drunk I think they are.

I'll leave it up to you to decide which one is true.  Either way, the only brew being enjoyed right now is the one my brain is cooking up.  Though I'm a little rusty after a year and two days, I'm just going to put this out there and see what happens.

Do you ever feel like you aren't the same person you were in your youth?  Sure, most of us mature and develop - that's not what I'm talking about.  I mean, do you feel like you aren't as fun-loving, inspired, or passionate?

Sometimes I feel like I trade off little bits of my youth as the years go by.  I have less time for relationships because my evenings aren't spent hosting people or going for coffee - they're spent keeping children alive and fed/rested/changed/disciplined/delivered/etc.  I haven't played my guitar since my son was born nearly seven years ago.  I used to read interesting books.  Now my eyes have a hard time staying open.  I used to have a job I didn't really care about.  Now a ton of my mental energy goes into building something meaningful out of my work.

After a few stressful months, Caryn made it clear to me that I hadn't been myself lately.  I wouldn't tell the story if I held it against her, but one of the things she said is, "the guy I married was one of the most kindhearted people I knew.  I feel like you're losing that."

Wow.  Bombshell.  I mean yeah, I don't feel like the passionate, energetic guy I was a decade ago, but that's a biggie.  I'm losing my kindness!

And you know what?  It's true.  What does it take to be kindhearted?  You have to care about people.  Are you able to take an interest in others when you are always under the gun - behind on deadlines and dayhome pickups?  No.  It's all about how you can get your stuff done - the people around you are an interruption.  They stand between you and your stress relief (a bad place to be standing, cause I usually feel like a bulldozer when I'm stressed).

Other people become extras in the movie of your life - nothing more.  You interact with them just to get something.

Client = Sale
Cashier = Coffee
Co-worker = answer generator to keep your work rolling
Flirtatious stranger = ego booster
Spouse = person who can take things off your plate if you're nice to them
Kids = liabilities, chores.

I asked myself when the last time was that I asked someone about themselves for no reason other than just to get to know them, and I couldn't answer.

This is a pretty bad state to be in for me -  a spot where other people don't matter.  But it gets worse, because I bet I'm not the only one.  In fact, I bet the majority of people are like this to some degree.  And what happens when our whole society starts treating each other like vending machines or ATMs that dispense our own little 'relational' trinket?  Sounds kind of dysfunctional, doesn't it? 

So, my goal (or sure, call it a resolution, since it's that time of year) is to start asking people about themselves, and really taking an interest.  Because it turns out that they've all got complicated, interesting lives too. And just maybe, if I can actually SEE that there's more to them than the role they play, it might make their experience a little less stressful too.  I know that's what it would do for me!

Hopefully we'll SEE each other next year. 

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant post. It's something I think about often too - that gradual replacement of passion, energy, and curiosity (and yes, kindness) with the responsibilities and cynicism of being a grown up. I wonder if it has to do, in part, with losing our naivete as the years go by. When we're young, the whole world is before us, our dreams are within reach, and everyone seems to be worthy of our kindness. As we get older, we learn that the world is too vast, our dreams are too big, and not everyone is good. We get run down by life.

    I think my New Year's resolution will be to regain some of my naivete - dream big, do big things, and expect only goodness out of everyone and everything.

    Merry Christmas and happy new year!