I had something prepared to write about for this week, but going to punt to next week for that one.
A whole bunch of things kind of collided in my head this week, and I think that’s when you know you’ve got a good thing to write about.
I’ll also give you this mild disclaimer as I exercise my Elder Sage status <insert sarcasm here>, I might be a bit challenging in this post, and I look forward to reading the feedback on it. Please push back if you feel called to do that, as I think that hearing a well-thought out (kind) response to one’s thoughts is critical to really knowing what you think.
The core of what has been bouncing around my head is the idea of trauma, how one deals with it, recovers from it, and the community that forms (hopefully) around those that are suffering from that trauma. Of course, part of this is the shooting that happened in Florida. Horrible, too close to home, and just damned awful.
But too, way more close to home is the ongoing trauma that a good friend of mine at work is going through with her daughter, as well as with a student at one of our elementaries who was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive cancer. Each of these cases is just damned awful, and in ways that you just don’t think about at first blush.
Each of these cases creates trauma….pain, damage, and loss that is incredibly hard to even fathom from someone on the outside of the bubble. Those on the inside of the trauma are doing their absolute best to first get through the day, and do it in a way that causes no harm. Their lives, like ours was in the last months of 2012, are just holding on to the rollercoaster that keeps going round and round, with no apparent rhyme or reason, and without your consent. It is not fun. After they get through the day-to-day, they just hope to have a life left to put back together when it’s all done.
But a community sprung up quickly around us, and in most cases I hope always does to some extent. People’s suffering connects with us on a visceral level, and most people want to help take some of that away.
Being optimistic, I think people want to try to take away some of the suffering that they see in the world, especially when it’s part of a community that they are invested in. On a slightly more cynical note, I think people want to at least put some chips in the pot lest they find themselves in a similar situation at some point in their lives, and want to have a community spring up around them.
My sister married into a Mexican family in 1997, and I got to experience what it meant to see an entire community surround a couple to provide for their needs. The community might not have had fat stacks of cash to dish out, but their small sacrifice, multiplied by the size of the community, enabled the her new family to have pretty much everything they needed. They showed up again for their first born too. That wrapping around and providing just stuck with me, as I’m still thinking and talking about it a full 21 years later. They saw the need, and they filled it, with the expectation that if they were in need, the rest of the community would do so without being asked.
Here’s where I start being “poky”, as Shelley and Anya would say (think porcupine). Social media helps us connect, but I think in some ways it also makes it far easier to do something, but not really anything. When we like a post, or even share/retweet it to our bubbles, it gives us the feeling that we “did something”. Yes, it does amplify the message, but on some level, it’s just wind.
I know it’s considered incredibly harsh to talk about religion in this way (Religion and Politics are both landmines!), but simply put, giving someone your thoughts and prayers is not helpful. What helps people who are in trauma? Actions. People being physically present, and doing things that will help them in the immediate future make their lives a tiny bit easier.
If you have a person who is in trauma in their lives, make a tray of lasagna (divide and store in individual ziplock containers!), go clean their house (with permission people, if not, that’s a felony!), buy them some gift cards to some easy restaurants, steal their cars to get their oil changed or tired rotated (with permission people, if not, that’s a felony...again!), or any other list of similar things. Think of what you keep putting off because you just “don’t have enough time!”, and then realize how much less time they have to deal with the normal little things in life.
When I was working in television, I had to go out and interview people from a community in the Thumb where a farmer was killed in an accident on his farm, in the middle of the sugar beet harvest. The next day, when I arrived with my camera to get comments, the fields were filled with people who had brought their own tractors (is that the right word for the house sized machines that they use?) to bring in that family’s sugar beets, before they had finished their own. Tables of food, coffee, and desserts were overflowing for those that arrived. They did not use words to convey their desire to help. Instead, they showed up and did the things that needed to be done.
What am I saying? In my incredibly preachy, standing on my stack of milk crates style of speaking….If you know someone in trauma: Do something. Do it now. Do it often.
If you hear about someone in need that you feel is pulling your heart, do something small. Do something big. Do something outrageous that people will talk about for years (with permission people, if not, that might be a felony, again), and make a difference in their lives. Now.
Going to sign off now and head home. Does anyone else have a hard time composing one’s thoughts at home? I can’t write a lick when I have all my creature comforts so close to me, let alone my distractions.
I'll end this with a pic of Anya doing what she loves doing the most, reading. She's read more books than most people, in their entire lifetime. I love this girl, and she's amazing. Woo!
<Note the handmade knitted slippers. Hmmmm...where'd she get those from?>
Have a good week everyone!