I am reading a new-to-me book right now. 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. It is by Marc & Angel Chernoff. It is a series of articles, quotes, and thought provoking questions. Some of it is very repetitive – I’ve read the same paragraph, with just a little difference, at least three or four times now, in different chapters. Considering how repetition is so important in retention, this is actually a good thing.
One of the pages is titled “Happiness questions to make you think.” One of the questions is “What is your happiest childhood memory?” When I read that, I had three memories flash through my mind, almost simultaneously. One of those memories was of the times my mother told us bedtimes stories. She TOLD us stories, she seldom read to us – at least, not that I remember. I am a storyteller today, and I attribute a lot of my skill to listening to my mother as a child. I loved those bedtime stories.
The other two memories both involved my sister. I found that very interesting. You see, usually when I think of my sister and my childhood, I tend to think of sibling rivalry, resentments, favoritism (we both thought the other was the favored child), fights – a lot of negatives. I am not used to thinking of childhood memories of my sister in connection with happiness.
So when TWO of my three happiest memories involved my sister, I was surprised, to say the least. I enjoyed remembering those times.
We lived out in the country. Our nearest neighbors were half a mile away, on either side of us. We had grass that, when we were much younger, literally grew above our heads, and even as we grew taller, it was still chest and waist high. We used to play hide and seek in the grass. We created tunnels and secret passageways. We played house. I can remember flattening a section of grass and putting towels down on the ground and sunbathing together, with grass walls rising around us. Playing in the tall grass with my sister, and sunbathing with her, is one of my happy memories.
The other one? We had a lake. Our dad built a floating platform out in the middle. When we got older, mom would (reluctantly) let us go down together to swim – without obvious adult supervision. And I remember skinny dipping in our lake with my sister. We didn’t do it often, but that is one of the happy memories of my childhood.
And that third memory? Of mom telling us stories? Well, for a long time, we shared a room – so my sister was part of that, as well.
Wow. “What is your happiest childhood memory?” Three memories flash through my head. My sister is in all of them.
Sometimes I think that we get stuck in the pain of the past, and forget the happiness that we had, as well. I’m glad that I had this reminder of some of those happy times.
I love you, sissy. Thanks for the good memories.
I have been pondering something the last few days. I have been thinking about my children.
I have a certain attitude towards my kids. I understand that this is a common feeling among parents. I have tended to think of my children as just that – children. I have all the memories of their childhood. I remember all the times when they asked me for help, when Momma had the answers that they needed.
Even tho they are grown, I still have those memories that color our every interaction. I still have the feeling of “Momma knows best.”
At least, until a few days ago.
I had the opportunity of visiting my oldest son’s work. He is the assistant manager of a store chain that I frequent on a regular basis. I was passing through his town, heading home from a business trip. I stopped off to say hi, and to pick up a couple of things. As I am just the mother, I got to wait while he assisted other customers.
I watched him answering questions, directing people to what they needed, competent, confident, and assured.
And I had a sudden thought – When did our roles reverse?
I was waiting for him – to ask for his advice and instruction. When did that start happening? When did that young boy, who came to me asking for help and directions, morph into the young man, that now I was asking for help and instruction? Wasn’t it only yesterday that he was seven? Twelve?
No. That was years ago.
There are still subjects that my son will ask for feedback on, or information, or even help. But now there are just as many times that I turn to him, for his expertise on something.
He isn’t a boy anymore. He has grown to a man.
According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:
On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline 6 times. I commented on 19 posts. I liked 7 posts.
On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times. I commented on 14 posts. I liked 15 times.
On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts. I Liked 11 posts by others.
On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall. I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.
On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall. I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.
Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative. I made 1 comment. I liked 2 posts.
Jan 4, nothing.
Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.
Jan 6? Nothing.
Jan 7? Nothing
Jan 8? Nothing
Jan 9? Nothing
Jan 10? Nothing
Jan 11? A question on a business page.
Jan 12? So far, another question on a different business page.
Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.
From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days. And 6 of those days I did not post anything. I did send a couple of private messages to people. I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.
I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.
Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity? I got curious.
I was listening to news a few days ago. On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died. Her toddler was present. Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it. She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later. According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on. You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore. The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.
I thought about that. I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook. What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared? Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while. I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.
But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting? Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take? What would they do about it? Anything? Would they ask me if I was OK? Would they comment on my wall?
One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over. I am a fairly solitary person. I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis. If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?
I decided to go dark on Jan 2. I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook. There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like. I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t. I wanted to share things.
I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people. I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation. So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself. Facebook is my social connection. Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided. I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself. Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.
And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.
And what happens when they no longer are posting? Are they sick? Are they depressed? Are they suicidal? Are they hurt? Have I even noticed? And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them? Have I checked on them?
I have, actually, once or twice. More likely, I don’t even notice. If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it. It is easy to miss postings by people. And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting. I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things. But with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.
Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home. I cleaned more. I painted. I read. Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed. I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook. This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much. And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things. I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things. I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.
So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction. And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends. How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook? And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?
And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things? One person private messaged me on January 5th. Another person private messaged me on January 7th. Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.
But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am. If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.
I have been looking at the issues of both the world and the US with a bit of frustration, worry, and fear. It seems as if everyone is so polarized – so intent that their way is the only way, that they refuse to even consider finding a middle ground, finding a compromise that benefits everyone, even if nobody gets ALL of what they want. America has become a land of the self-centered and selfish. “I want it MY way, and if I can’t have it MY way, I’m going to make sure you don’t get anything YOUR way. It is MY way or nothing!” is the message that a lot of today’s politicians and/or their followers seem to be saying.
And racial violence seems to be on the upswing; obvious incidences of prejudice and bias are apparent. And unfortunately, the reaction to those incidences seems to mainly be more violence, which leads only to worsening conditions.
I was going through some old documents today, and ran across something that I wrote a couple of years ago. I want to share it…
We Are Brothers
inspired by “We are Africa” as performed by Foreign Tongues
When God knelt down in the dirt
and scooped up that ball of clay,
He rolled it and shaped it and formed it,
In His own image.
He breathed life into it and called it “Man.”
The Good Book doesn’t say He made a black man,
It doesn’t say he made a white man.
Or yellow or red or blue or green or orange or purple.
It just says he made man – and it was Good.
No one knows when the division of color came.
Perhaps, as people moved north and the days grew colder,
the longer nights and shorter days bleached out the colors.
Some people say it was the Mark of Cain
that separated the colors of man.
Science has proven that all women
came from one woman,
Deep dark in Africa.
Doesn’t matter what race, what color –
All women carry that same genetic marker,
making us all sisters with the same mother –
Eve, birthing the world in the cradle of life.
So once we were all dusky brown, chocolate, dark –
I’ve wondered if that mark of Cain
was the bleaching of his skin.
But still, white, black, brown, red, yellow –
Languages were the same.
Until man, working together as brothers,
built that tower to the heavens,
and God, looking down, stirred the people
and created a babble of voices.
That, then, truly separated the nations from each other.
Each went their own way, growing apart,
forgetting who we were, where we came from,
the fact that once we were ALL brothers.
And the years and centuries passed.
Mankind warred against mankind;
Put chains on each other.
Your ancestors wore chains.
My ancestors wore chains.
Not just our ancestors wore chains.
You wear chains. I wear chains.
Some of those chains are visible.
Some are unseen – but those unseen chains
wear men down just as much as heavy links of iron.
Ignorance, poverty, abuse –
Those chains know no boundaries.
They come to every man – red, yellow, black, white, brown.
Faces pinched with hunger look with hopelessness
at barren lives
And Death in the form of drugs, alcohol and violence
too often looks back.
The only way to defeat that death,
to break those chains of despair,
to bring All men to freedom
The freedom of love, of Hope, of a future…
The only way to break chains of
the past and present
is to remember
that WE are all brothers.