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I have gratitude for my life, truly I do.
I’m white, living in a racist country, and I don’t worry when I get behind the steering wheel of my Subaru that a police officer will shoot me during a routine traffic stop because he thought I was pulling out a gun when reaching for my cell phone.
I have health insurance, so when I run on a treadmill for a heart-stress echo test I never thought I’d have (thanks for the great genes, Dad), I don’t have to dip into my bank account or beg a friend to lend me the $7,000 dollars to pay the hospital.
I get to live on land at altitude, in a place I could never afford to buy at the prices they’ve now reached. I get to watch the quaking aspens tinge with yellow before they turn complete golden and surrender to the autumn oncoming. I get to rescue three abandoned Southern dogs and give them a blessed life–complete with wheelchairs, diapers, long walks, and delicious food.
Like you, I have gratitude for my life.
I’m not fleeing a draft ordered by a pernicious dictator thousands of miles away, nor preparing for an invasion by these same neighbors. I’m not begging to get into a country rendered divisive and difficult to enter, owing to ubiquitously unfounded fear for the color of my skin. I’m not diving in dumpsters behind Whole Foods (or jumping the chain-link fence barring entry of people experiencing homelessness), and I’m not sleeping in a tent at night along Boulder Creek shouting to my friends to keep the screaming down.
With all the gratitude in my heart and perspective on my mind, I appreciate my life for what it now is. I’ll bet you a latte and a yoga session that you do, as well.
And, however, these times still feel challenging to live through.
Being one of those now obsolete mid-lifers, there is no place in the productive human community for my experience and energy. Having been replaced by Millennials and Gen-Zs in the high-tech world of social media, SEOs, Slack, and every online forum that employers regard as essential, my experience and education is considered as essential as those government workers facing layoffs during the last government shutdown.
Living in a mountain community where the deluge of humanity floods my backyard—like a flash flood in the slot canyons of Utah, every sun washed, warm day brings the ills of urbanity and attendant explosions of noise and extreme acts of stress-induced behavior, up close and personal. Calls to law enforcement to help quiet down the crotch rockets treating our Canyon State Highway as their own personal race course are as futile as asking any one rider to halve their speed down from 90 to the designated 45.
Re-emerging back into life after a two-year pandemic with the cultural wake of worker shortages, supply chain issues, stressed clerks, waitresses, cashiers, and receptionists, means the daily experience of interacting has become as replete with hostility as exasperation.
Everyone is exhausted, most are confused and wondering, and far too many are distracted and avoiding the new reality of our cultural collapse.
All I can think of is the Mayan culture from 800 A.D. (And no, funny guy, I wasn’t born then) that disappeared suddenly one day without explanation. Anthropologists hypothesized: was it war, famine, disease, or some ecological disaster? More than anything, I wish I wore that thick veneer of epidermis a good friend criticized me for lacking years earlier.
“You need to grow a thick skin.”
I fired that friend and several thereafter. I grew tired of all that rejection of my authentic nature: a sensitive, animal-loving empath. I can no more help who I am than Trump can help being a manipulative liar. People are who they are.
I realize that many in this Elephant Journal community are sensitive, creative empaths. It’s what I love about this community and I’m grateful it exists. (See? Still trying to practice gratitude. It helps)
And, let’s admit, this is a challenging time in which to live. It feels like everything is accessible. People are as overwhelmed as they are confused about where to put their energy on any given day. Finding a job is as impossible as sorting through endless how-to-articles. Brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing as fast as manners in a quotidian ritual. Enjoying a previously tranquil Sunday morning on my front porch has gone the way of explosive muffler monkeys on their Harleys.
Preparing our home to prevent it from burning down, owing to the next wildfire, is how we now spend our days. Wondering if the extremist MAGA Republicans, who’ve got their back and will stab you in yours, will restrict enough voting rights and win critical seats is on all of our minds, daily. Wondering if I’ll be shot in the next road rage incident on Boulder Canyon is as prevalent on my mind as is the sadness in the hearts of the parents who lost their children in the Uvalde shooting.
And simply wondering if we’ll have a planet Earth on which to live to see our elder years, and whether or not it’ll feel like that Twilight Zone episode, is as existential a question as it is pervasive.
The challenges of living in this time are as complicated as they are unpredictable. With a myriad of variables, speculations abound. The question for each one of us, no matter our privileges or setbacks, is how we relate to them.
What are your challenges today?
Because in the end, we’re all in it together—one mosaic and messy moment at a time.
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