Came across this video of Sinead O’Connor–yes, Sinead O’Connor, the performer. I left a rather lengthy comment after watching the video and realized it was more a blog than a commentary. The comment space wasn’t large enough to contain my big ideas… (What else is new? Me and my overly-enthused typing fingers… Oy vey!)
While I don’t want to preach or pontificate, I feel compelled to respond when I see someone suffering out loud like this. (By out loud, I mean in public, for all to see.) Most of us hide our true selves when faced before a potentially judgmental crowd of onlookers, but celebs, I suppose, are used to wearing their hearts on their sleeves. (Or perhaps they’re just resigned to their privacy being regularly violated.)
Yes, a lot of people suffer in this world. That always will be true, but most of us don’t want to see it or be reminded of it. When we’re forced to witness human suffering, it is so easy for us to issue empty platitudes:
“Don’t worry, be happy! Things’ll get better. Look at the bright side! You’re lucky to be alive! Blah blah blah blah blah blah!”
We say those things to comfort each other, but often such clichés trivialize the complex challenges and sometimes catastrophic calamities that befall some people in this life. Believe it or not, life is not fair. Some people suffer more than others in this world, and through no fault of their own.
Our society has become dangerously impersonal. We hide behind memorized platitudes when we don’t know what to say to each other anymore, or worse, when we lack empathy and compassion for each other but want to keep up kinder, gentler appearances. Spewing out pleasantries like “Cheer up” is all we know how to do when we don’t really care. Empathy, I fear, is becoming a lost art.
An impersonal society like ours, a society in which people rarely connect face-to-face, is dangerous. This lack of intimacy leads to sociopathic behavior. And these detached, impersonal, digitized interactions are not making us happy.
Yet we interact on social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc., especially when we’re lonely. Certainly, we can reach out to people we’d normally never meet–people who live on other continents thousands of miles away. We can start a connection. That’s great!
Ultimately, though, we need to connect in a more direct and intimate way to form genuine, lasting relationships that truly fulfill us. Social media is a good way to begin a connection with others, but that is unfinished business. Facebook is the last place where we should go when we’re lonely and need real, honest, long-term relationships that will still be there for us on our darkest days.
We need public spaces. We need public places where we can sit down with other people and just talk face-to-face. Places where we can point out each other’s milk mustaches and remove the cat hair from each other’s sweaters. Places where we not only support each other but recognize each other’s flaws so that we help ourselves to grow and repair what we can and to accept our imperfect selves when we cannot. Places where we prepare each other to face the general public and bravely make a good impression on it again.
Face-to-face, we see each other, smell each other, touch each other, breathe the same air, get tanned by the hot sun together. We hear the angry tone of his voice while he says he’s not angry, see the tear in the eye while she smiles and says everything’s great. Sitting down and talking face-to-face, we learn more about each other in one half hour than in the hundreds of Facebook messages we’ve exchanged over the course of a year.
Sinead O’Connor is a celebrity. She’s rich and famous–everyone’s dream!–yet she’s unhappy. How can that be? It can be because money and material things don’t buy love. Good people–people who are kind and loving and supportive of you, people who truly love YOU–aren’t going to care about how much money you have, so you won’t attract them to you with your money. You’ll just attract people who want some of your money, your fame, etc., if you use those things to bring people into your life.
Personally, I think O’Connor is a very talented and highly intelligent person who’s given us all great music. But now, she needs to give something to herself–self love!
It’s hard for me to say this because, these days, there are so many people who practice too much self love. I mean, extreme selfishness is pretty much destroying our society. Yet even so, there are still some people who don’t love themselves enough. Oddly enough, some of these people are rich and famous. They had enough self love to further their careers but not enough to sustain a healthy relationship with themselves. Who knew? How now?
Turns out fame and fortune doesn’t necessarily make people happy. Big surprise! No matter how much love other people send in our direction, we still need to love ourselves. Because even the most famous and wealthy person on the planet has his/her detractors. Yes, there will always be someone who loves us and someone who hates us. Haters gonna hate!
No matter how wonderful you are, how brilliant your work, how relevant you are to the betterment of our society, or how many millions of devoted fans you have, there will always be someone somewhere who doesn’t like you and what you do. Heck, look what happened to Jesus, to Martin Luther King…
So we need to love ourselves enough to let go of the haters and focus on the lovers. We need to follow the light, so to speak, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all the lovers out there who need to connect with us, who need our light to lead them away from their gang of haters.
Our society is becoming increasingly impersonal and unloving. Very disturbing really. I believe we, as a society, are creating mental illness. (Aw, can’t we just blame genetics or biochemical imbalances in the brain for mental illness? Do we have to accept responsibility for our actions toward other people?)
Yes, we do need to be responsible for what we say and do and how it affects others. The filter of technology makes it easy for people to be cruel and callous to each other, but it doesn’t have to be that way. People, we can relate to each other honestly and face-to-face. I think most of us still know how to do that. But if we’ve forgotten how, there is a way to learn again. If the powers that be (a.k.a., the PTB) won’t bring back public spaces then we must create them ourselves. We can invite people to come together to meet and talk in our own backyards. We can smile and say hello to strangers and share moments with other humans. Why not take a bus to work instead of driving one day just to see who else is traveling in your direction?
My message to those who are suffering with family or friends who are not loving and supportive is this: just let go of your dysfunctional family and accept yourself. You can’t change them, so don’t even try.
Often those of us who come from unloving families keep trying to get them to love us, support us, agree with us, etc. We think we can change them. Fact is, harsh as it may sound, we need to give up on them, forget about them and what they’re doing and just move on.
It’s possible to create a better family for ourselves through good, honest and trustworthy friendships with better quality people. Yes, it’s possible to reinvent one’s self and form new, healthier relationships. But first, we need to love and accept ourselves. I believe that self love can be learned. Practice being kind and compassionate toward yourself (as well as to others.) Practice random acts of kindness–toward yourself as well as toward others. Practice talking back to those negative thoughts in your head. Chances are they come from the voices of the dysfunctional family, the terrible things they’ve said to you in the past.
Look, nobody’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with being imperfect. In fact, perfection is boring! Think of how bored and depressed you’d get if you really had no problems at all. If you looked in the mirror and thought you looked perfect, the room, the house, the world around you was all perfect, then there’d be no need for cosmetics, makeup, rearranging the furniture, painting the walls, etc. Nothing to be done there. If everything just went your way, everyone agreed with everything you said, everyone liked you automatically, then there’d be nothing special about the people who loved you (since everyone loves you anyway) and nothing special about you that attracted them to you (since you’re perfect and, therefore, not very unique since everyone likes you automatically.) If everything in the entire world was perfect, then there’d be nothing to change, and nothing… to… do. Whew! Nothing to change? Nothing to write about? People don’t need to be informed of anything when everything stays the same. Things will stay the same, you know, when everything’s perfect.
And that’s not even considering the fact that what is perfect for one is imperfect for another. Do you like snow? Then a perfect day for you would be a snowy one, yes? There was a time when I too felt that way, but those days are gone for now. Right now, I prefer warm, dry, sunny and non-snowy days. Are you too shy? Is that your imperfection? Well, guess what? Some of us are attracted to shy people. Shy, for us, is just perfect! Perfection is not only undesirable but it is impossible when so many people disagree as to what it actually is.
We all have flaws. That’s what makes us human. That’s also what makes us interesting. Without our flaws, we’d be robotic and boring, to say the least. And the very qualities that some people don’t like about you are the same qualities that other people will LOVE about you. It’s a matter of seeking out the lovers and weeding out the haters… We need to find the people who will lift us up when we’re down. Sometimes it’s hard, I know. But those people are out there. Find them.
Corny as it sounds, I believe that each one of us is a miracle just because we’re alive. If the people in your life aren’t showing you love then they don’t deserve you. Period. Stop trying to change them or to get their attention. Just drop them. Stay away from people who are emotionally abusive. Life is too short! If you keep spending time with people who make you feel bad, you’ll always feel bad. This is especially true for people who are clinically depressed: You need to take extra care of your mental health, if you’re in that state of mind. That means going the extra mile toward avoiding things, people and situations that make you unhappy.
Find people who’ll give you the love, support and kindness you deserve. Find the people who’ll appreciate the uniqueness that is YOU. They are out there! Don’t settle for less. You deserve better. (This is true of all of us.)
I know it’s hard, but hang in there. There are good people in the world. But we don’t usually find them when we’re focused on the bad ones. That’s why it’s important to drop the haters, even if they’re family, and just move on to other relationships. If you feel bad after spending time with someone then something’s wrong. That relationship isn’t working for you. There’s a whole big world out there filled with good, kind, compassionate people who’ll always be there for you when you need them and whose spirits are compatible with yours. Seek and ye’ shall find!
Perhaps the secret lies in cultivating love and compassion within ourselves, sharing it with others then attracting the right people to us.
Take it easy. Take it easy on yourself. Take it easy on the people around you. We all have our “cross to bear.” We all have our troubles. Human beings are mortal beings. Sooner or later, we’ll suffer somehow. We’ll get sick. Our friends and family will get sick. They’ll die. We’ll die. It’s sad but true. Life’s hard for many of us. Life is often unfair. Some people are cruel for no reason. Others are kind but never rewarded.
What’s the point?
The point is, we’re all here. We’re all human. We’re sharing this planet together–rich, poor, male, female, white, black, pro-Trump, pro-Hillary, pro-Bernie, whatever. Please, please, let’s learn to be kind to each other. Let’s learn to be patient and understanding, to give each other a little leeway. Nobody’s perfect. That’s what makes life interesting. Do we really want other people to be exactly like us? What would it be like to walk down the street and run into…ourselves on the street? Pretty creepy, wouldn’t you say? Running into other people who have different perspectives than we do can be so enlightening, so refreshing, can really help us to think outside the box. We need all the many different kinds of people who are out there (except maybe for the violent ones…we don’t really need them so much.) But we do need a variety of people. And the people we don’t like or who don’t treat us well just help us to appreciate the ones we love so much more. So they too have their purpose!
Look, we all need to collectively “chill out” and remember why we’re here. We’re not here to work. We’re not here to pay our bills. We’re not here to worry about what other people should be or shouldn’t be doing. We’re not even here to protest against the status quo (although that is an activity that might achieve some results.)
Ultimately, we’re here to love, to love each other, our friends, our family… We’re here to enjoy life because it’s short, so very short. Before you know it, it’ll have passed you by. Yesterday, you were 18, but now you’re 65. Where did the time go?
So people, can we please, please, please stop fighting? Stop putting each other down? Stop judging each other? Stop holding each other back?
Stop and smell the roses. Look up at the sky, at the stars. Watch the sun go down and the moon rise up. Listen to the birds sing in the morning. To the children giggling and playing in the backyard. Take a moment to listen, look, smell, touch, and taste it all… And remember that our time here really is very, very short.
So let’s try to enjoy this moment. And if that isn’t possible, maybe it’s time to pack up and leave where we are in this moment, to move to a better place, surround ourselves with a better crowd because unhappiness is just a waste of time. If you’re unhappy, don’t put up with it. Don’t settle. Leave. Find your tribe. Don’t waste time. Go out into the world and find your place within it. You were born here on this planet, so, yes, you do belong here. Find your home. It’s waiting for you.
Some of us are poor financially. Some of us are poor spiritually. The former is difficult to control, but the latter is within our reach. Cultivate your spirit. Surround yourself with loving people. Do what you love as often as possible. Spread that love to everyone around you.
Okay, that’s enough preaching for today. My sermon has ended, and it’s way past my bedtime.