Monday, January 27, 2014

The Biggest Loser in the Social War

Always look at the bright side, eh?

Ok . . . so this is me, looking at the bright side of getting up at 5:00am to color my hair.  Since I gave up using chemical dyes and switched to all-natural henna to color my hair, I’ve decided that I would rather sacrifice sleep and get up early so I can leave the henna on my hair for three hours without losing half my day off because I have a head full of mud.

But oh how nice sleep would be right now.

Oh well.  Since I’m up, I might as well do a little writing - something I haven’t been doing enough of lately.

Today is my dad’s 79th birthday.  The importance of this is that his own father died at 78.  I think that is a major feat, don’t you?  My mother and father are still alive, as are my husband’s mother and father, so I don’t know yet what it is like to lose a parent.  But having watched others I know experience this loss, I think a common theme - or maybe a better word is a common goal - is to live past the age our parents lived to be.  As if somehow the age a parent died is this wall that we all must reach and then climb over.  The beauty of my dad turning 79 today is that my “wall” is still in motion, still moving further away from me.  I can still live my life without thinking that every day puts me “one day closer to [insert age here].”

Kind of a selfish way to look at it I guess.  But an honest one.  Because aren’t we all a little selfish?  The world does revolve around me, doesn’t it?

Since I started working a few months ago, I have taken a break from my online world.  Social media, blogging, and emailing have become something I do on the weekends, and then only if there is absolutely nothing else to do.  Before I started working I found the “look at me, look at me” attitude of many people online to be slightly annoying.  Now?  It’s unbearable.  And yet, there are an equal number who aren’t constantly trying to be The Most Popular, The Funniest, or The Most Needy person on [insert social media site here], but are just saying, “Hi, how are ya?”  They are the gems of the world!  The ones who can write a post that isn’t cryptic, isn’t begging for praise, isn’t inflicting guilt . . . those are the people I now appreciate so much more than I used to.  Those are the people I aspire to be!

Of course, I understand that some people don’t have anyone to talk to outside of their online social world.  Some people need the constant reassurance that only 57 “likes” and 23 comments can give.  Some people are only happy if they are letting you know that they have it so much worse than you do.  There are wars going on all around the world that people should be following, should be caring about, and yet I can get online at any moment and witness the collective hours put in every day on a different kind of war.

My child had cancer!
Yeah?  Well, my child HAS cancer still.

My child died from cancer at age 17.

My child died at 12.

MINE died at 1!!!

I use cancer as the example here because that is the world that I am a part of.  But the same war goes on in other circles as well.  Who had the worst marriage, the worst commute to work, the worst hair day.  Whose weather is the worst today.  It’s all a game of who has it worse than someone else.

So who wins?  Because that is how it seems, that there is a winner somewhere in all of this.  Who wins at having the most tragic life?  

I want to be the loser.  I want to be the person whose life is so pleasant, so easy, so ordinary, that I become the biggest loser in The Social War.  I want to look at the challenges I have faced, the losses I have experienced, the bad days that we all occasionally have and see the bright side.  I wasn’t able to do that a few months ago.  I was caught up in the war as well, competing for the prize.  It’s amazing how much perspective can be gained just by taking time off and enjoying the good things in life though.

Who knew?