Today I am being pulled in another interesting direction with this project. When I last did this I sat down and made a list of thirty things to be grateful for and each day I wrote about one of the topics. This go round I am waiting until the day and even the moment that I write each entry. It causes things to be a bit less refined that some of the other things I have written but it is a good exercise in living in the moment.
Today I am grateful for weird wisdom. What I mean by weird wisdom is timely bits and pieces that show up in your life at exactly the right moment almost always from sources I typically do not look to for guidance. These are stories that come across my news feed, quotes on my wall, motivation posters someone cooks up, or even words spoken in passing. Weird wisdom falls into the category I call the spiritual 2X4. The spiritual 2X4 is the stuff that just smacks you out of nowhere and rapidly changes your perspective.
I have received a lot of weird wisdom lately. Most of it has happened at festival or has been related to festival. One of the things that almost all of these bits have in common is that they have not come from anyone in a specific leadership, mentor or director role. It has all come from “one of the gang”. Someone will just mention something, almost in passing, and it will make me stop in my tracks.
The most recent item of weird wisdom came from a story I was reading from one of our stage performers. I have been having a strange season. I have been in several different shows in different roles within my specific character. I have also been intermingled into the staff side of things and it has caused me to think a lot about this season as work. I have not truly enjoyed it as much as I have felt invisible and imaginary pressure to make things work. This person told a story of being reminded to have fun while performing at the festival. Suddenly it was BAM right in the face with the spiritual 2X4. One of the things I had forgotten was to enjoy my time at fest. It was weird wisdom because of the people involved in the story were not direct mentors to me, people I do not know that well, and I wasn’t looking to solve that problem. A guy with a guitar and a guy from the pirate singing show, without knowing, slapped me with a very obvious answer to a problem I had written off.
No one was looking to impart any wisdom with anyone else. It was a personal story that was shared about keeping his own attitude where it belonged but it worked as a message for me.
The good stuff doesn’t always come from gurus and spiritual leaders. Sometimes, often times, it comes from “that guy over there”. We are all ministers. We are all healers. We all have a story to tell and that story does contain weird wisdom. I am always on the lookout for the 2X4 and weird wisdom. It’s often the best stuff.
Today I am grateful for weird wisdom.
Short and to the point…
In my time as a festival performer I spend a good part of the day kneeling or sitting in the dirt with little kids, playing music. They dance to my flute or “help” me play my drum. Sometimes they just stand, stare and smile. It is a pretty good time to see these kids and to entertain them. Many of these kids are small enough that verbal communication is minimal and they don’t have the developed sense of humor to respond to an “acting” interaction. They respond to smiles, waves, hello’s, and music.
This is where I am in my element. Little kids like me and I am perfectly content to sit in the dirt and play music with my tiny audiences. The parents look so grateful that someone is spending time with their child and the littles laugh and dance and have a great time with me. It also makes the parents day when a performer gives their kid special time.
Often a parent will snap a picture and they will have that image with them forever. This weekend I was blessed to have one of our unofficial, official photographers walk right into a moment that I was having with a little. I am now blessed to have a permanent memory to look back on when I am having a why am I doing this moment. When it is hot out, or cold and rainy, and it has been a long season, and that thing I wanted to try in the lanes flops, I now have more than just a memory of an event that meant something to me. I have a picture.
Today I have two gratitudes. I am grateful for the littles that love to play with my traveling musician character in his funny hat, and I am grateful for the pictures that I have of that moment.
There has been a lot happening the last few days? Most of what has been hitting the headlines and overriding social media has been tragic. People are dying. People are killing. People are angry. People are frightened. People are sad. There is so much information hitting us from every direction and someone is passionate about it. It is something that means so much to someone. It is something that makes someone angry. It is something that someone needs to change.
There are articles, news stories and opinions everywhere telling each person’s side of all of these events. Everyone seems passionate about what is driving their news feed and their wall. There is also a weird thing happening where people are being called out for not being angry about this thing or that thing. There are people getting mad at other people because they aren’t mad or because they are choosing to post positive things or trivial things and they just haven’t bought in to why you are angry.
As it has been for a good portion of this year, I have been really struggling with my mental health and all of this anger, frustration and violence has me thinking. What of this is mine? This is too much to take in. This is too much to handle. I can’t change all of this. I can’t fix everything. I can’t be angry with you. What of this is mine? There are more causes than there are people to get behind them. There are more things to make you angry than can be imagined by one person. There are more passions than one person can possibly process. What of all of this is mine?
If you read enough of social media, or watch enough videos, you will be taught that all of these things are your responsibility and if you are truly a good person, you will support, not just support but become an activist, for someone’s passion. If you don’t follow a particular passion and give your all to it then you are horrible and are part of the problem. I have two words. Hell no.
I can be empathetic to your passion and your situation and not participate in it. I have my own passion and my own work to do. Me not joining your activism does not make me a bad person or a part of the problem. This is yours to do, not mine.
I have a passion. I have something that moves me and drives me to do my work. That passion is the demographic, for lack of a better word, of those suffering, those recovering, and those living with mental illness. This is where I pour my energy and effort. I blog about it. I educate people about it. I support people who are in it. This is mine to do. There is a second interest or passion that is the LGBT community. While I am not nearly as active with this group, many of the people that I do interact with belong to both groups. This is where I live, this is what drives my soul.
I have to look at all that is spiraling around me and step out of it and ask. Is this mine? Most of it is not and therefore I will acknowledge its seriousness and how you feel about it. I will agree that it is important. I will support your efforts, from a distance. I have work that is mine. It is what I must do. It may not be yours. I need to do it. Because I am doing my work, I can’t do yours.
We all have work to do. We all have passions. We all have things that make us angry and what to change. Do your work. I applaud your efforts. I will do my part and my part is this. I will do my best to show up as the best possible person I can for each situation I find myself in. When I am in a place that involves your passion, your cause, I will do my best to be an example of how a person should show up. That is the best I can offer. This is the best that can be hoped for and should be the best that is expected.
Be passionate. Change the world. Do your work. Allow me to do mine.
I never wanted to bring this topic up or discuss things like this here. I had very different plans for today, yesterday actually. I am going in a different direction today because I feel like I must.
I just witnessed a perfectly sad example of white privilege. A whole bunch of white people complaining about the oscar boycott, a fight they don’t directly have a dog in. In my opinion, these reactions occur when the person in the position of privilege would need to admit that something is wrong and that something tips the scale in the favor of their own demographic, even though they are not directly involved in the specific situation. The situation eludes to class privilege at large and the privileged are made to feel uncomfortable. The reaction is to defend your exceptions or to point out small progress as a final acceptable result.
I am not immune to this. I am just recognizing it happens and want to do better. When faced with class privilage, I being a white, middle aged, male, go to the top of the pile. Statistically speaking the breaks all fall my way. But jason, you have a mental illness, statistically speaking you are in a higher risk demographic and life is harder for you. Yup, white dudes have it rough in the arena of mental health. Change the color of my skin and I have it even worse. There are things about me the can change my position on the privilege scale, but that position is relative to other white dudes. Life is like a game of d&d, white dude is the standard for comparison.
The system has made great strides. But the system is still set up for white males to win. Period. I get uncomfortable when someone points out my privilege. I should. I find myself wanting to explain my way out of it. I shouldn’t and I can’t. I can’t fix the oscars, the work force, or anything else. What I can do is be the best person I can be in every interaction I have, with every person I have. When I have the opportunity, like voting, I can make choices that support change. I can also choose my level of participation in things that don’t support change. I can do my best to be an example to other white dudes in how to not be a tool.
The playing field is out of balance in my favor and that is wrong.
Content tomorrow. Today, pain meds and trying to forget the image of a semi shoving me into a ditch. Be safe people.
I like to think that I am always learning. I am a watcher of the world around me and I am always taking in, analyzing and evaluating. There is a lot that I pick up just being aware in my surroundings. I keep my mind busy when I am up and moving. My mind is constantly churning, even when I would wish it wasn’t. I see something, I look for causes. I analyze what information I have about the scene. I try to make best conclusions based off the information present. I ask questions in my head about what is missing in order to assess situations. I see signs or phrases in advertising or on a bumper sticker when I return home I look for the source, or I see something in public and it sets my mind on a journey related to the topic or idea presented and when I get home I look for information on subjects. Someone may mention owls casually in a conversation and when I get to a place that I can, I might be prompted to read as much information about owls that I can lay my hands on. Sometimes it may be the simplest littlest thing that might set me off on a quest.
However, for times when I am specifically studying or learning, independent study is how I prefer to learn. I am quite comfortable with books, videos, articles or what have you, in my hands, by myself, taking in the information. I also like for my learning to be interactive. If I can do something and learn as opposed to reading something to learn, I think I do a better job of retaining the information. The reason, I think, for this is that doing something is usually multisensory and more fully engages me as opposed to simply reading, which often times sets my mind off on tangents and I will not be focusing in the words before me. Mostly what I study are things that try to get me in touch with who I am and how I can be a better me. I enjoy reading books on spiritual subjects, article on mental health studies, things that show me ow to show up better in life. These aren’t the find ways to make a million dollars self help things, but more along the lines of how well do you know yourself? What are behaviors and habits that you can change to be a more genuine, more honest representation of how you think people should show up in life.
Honestly, I am not a great student of traditional subject, math, science and things like that. I know enough to have a good understanding of how my world works and let it go at that. I study to understand the illnesses that I have, and how to manage them and I study and read about how to best get through each day being a positive experience and influence in life.