Warning: this post contains swear words. I don’t consider this gratuitous profanity (sometimes, no other word will do), and it is reflective of the way I express myself in real life, especially in traffic or when I’ve cut my finger open on a tin can. Let the pearl-clutching commence.
Everywhere you turn these days, people are declaring themselves fuckless. They don’t have any, refuse to give any, and certainly wouldn’t waste one on you even if they had one. Which they don’t. At all.
I can’t help but suspect that there is, in fact, a secret supply of fucks stashed away, fueling this need to declare independence from caring. We are tired, my friends. So tired of worrying and empathizing (that ish is exhausting!) and paying attention and being responsible and being connected to other people’s pain and trauma and drama.
We are constantly encouraging each other to unplug and disconnect, and while it is true that detaching ourselves from our robot overlords every once in a while is a good thing, we must remember that we are not trying to disconnect from each other. Boundaries, yes. Mental health breaks, yes. But also: more connection, not less.
Start with you.
Are you connected to yourself? Is your emotional USB cable properly plugged in? Are you angry, tired, scared, lonely? If so, why? If you don’t know the answer to that, pretend that you do. Because the very best version of you that is living in some alternate reality and watching all of this from afar does, in fact, know. You just have to get Higher Self You to take your call. Personally, I find that my Higher Self responds well to hot baths and soothing beverages. Also: therapy, rest, a good meal, exercise, journaling, and/or an unbridled crying sesh (you know, the kind where you don’t worry about your mascara or other people hearing you or pesky things like logic).
Once you feel like you’re grounded in yourself and in this moment (not the one that just passed or the one that hasn’t happened yet), practice observing. Like a friendly alien. What fascinating creatures we humans are! How brave, how foolish, how kind, how cruel, how strong. How do other people do this thing called life? How do we manage these unwieldy flesh-vehicles? What an astounding myriad of experiences there are! If it makes us uncomfortable to think about those whose brains and bodies are different than ours, what conclusions would the alien observer draw? No judgement. Just observation.
And then – this is the big one, see if you can find a way to relate. A patch of solid, dry ground to stand on while you put on your compassion goggles so you can see that little speck of shared DNA. This is especially challenging in online comment sections and at the DMV.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I feel the need to proclaim how little I care about [insert issue or person of choice], 100% of the time, it’s because I do care and I hate how that feels. I HATE waking up in the morning and listening to the news with dread. I hate watching other people struggle through what often looks like preventable drama and seeing all the pain they inflict. I hate grieving and raging and witnessing and empathizing. The mirror-neurons that make me wince when I see someone get injured are the same ones that make me cry when a TV character on my favorite show is sad.
Thank goodness for that, though. THANK GOODNESS we have the ability to feel for each other and with each other. We’re communal creatures. That’s not a bad thing. Like everything else in life, it just requires balance. Don’t guzzle a gallon of soda or snarf down a bushel of fries (or brussels sprouts – I don’t know what your thing is) in one sitting. Maybe don’t binge on the news or social media or your friend’s tragedy. Engage mindfully. Hint: if you find your responses are becoming apathetic or disproportionate, it’s time for a stretch and a snack.
Do engage, though. Please. We need each other.