Get Home Safely

People always say that others are fighting hard battles and you should be kind to everyone you meet, even if they’re rude.

And I think that’s correct. But I think it could use some editing. Everyone’s facing a hard battle every day and everyone is just trying to get home safely.

We’re all just trying to get through our day so that we can go home and see our loved ones or spend time with people we enjoy.

So if you’re commute is a terror, remember that everyone is trying to get home safely. If someone is particularly rude, they probably would just rather be at home. And if you forget that everyone is fighting a hard battle, at least try to remember that they’d like to get home safely to pet their cats and dogs, to eat the food they bought, and sit on the couches and be comfortable.

Everyone, at the end of the day, just wants to be comfortable.

Attention!

I know what women want.

And you know what?

I know what men want too.

In fact, I know what all humans want. They want attention. And now that I’ve got yours, let’s continue…

Now, I know that attention gets a bad rap. Mostly, because everyone thinks that attention is bad (duh). Because how often have you heard: oh, he/she is just doing that for attention. And when you read that in your head, it came out negatively, right?

But it isn’t wrong to want attention. In fact, everyone needs some degree of it. It’s what makes us feel heard and feel like we matter.

I mean, why else is everyone’s dream to be famous? It’s not because movie stars make a lot of money, live a lavish lifestyle, or contribute something great to an art form. It’s because celebrities demand society’s attention. Whether we want to give it to them or not. (Kardashian sisters, your table is ready).

So, okay. You’re thinking, attention may need some…attention. And maybe I need some too. But why does that matter?

Because what is the one thing that we are totally short on these days (thanks to stupid smart phones and abundant advertising)? Yup, you guessed it. Attention.

And what happens when humans thrive on attention but aren’t able to deal it out or get it from anyone? We become unhappy. We have so much stuff vying for our attention that we have nothing left over. Which just continues to frustrate and anger the people around us. Really, the world’s ill isn’t that there’s too much to do; it’s that we aren’t allowed to focus on any one thing for very long.

So, what we all need to do is take some attention off of everything else and put it on ourselves. On our friends and family in front of us instead of the virtual ones on our phone. Maybe then our attention span will stop shrinking to the dimensions of a couple of bored high school students waiting for the final bell. And in the end, maybe we’ll get the attention we all deserve in return. The attention we paid, in full.

The Sloths Are Never Wrong

In terms of what planet Earth has to offer, the human race isn’t exactly the star attraction. We aren’t the biggest (blue whales), the fastest (cheetahs), or even the laziest (sloths. But Americans are a close second.) And to top it all off, we are literally killing and destroying our planet.

So, what are humans good at? What have we evolved from monkeys and small amoeba to do? What does evolution have in store for us? Like, if Darwin wanted to win an award for best example of evolution, how would he market us? What would his tri-fold poster look like at the science fair?

Well, let’s see. We’re definitely good at war. We like to fight and dominate and oh yeah, kill. (No wonder “alien” races from outer space stay away!) But so do monkeys. So, that’s not exclusive to us. And we can speak. We have hundreds of thousands of dialects and even more slang words. But any dog can recognize a command in our native tongue, even if it’s just because our voices get a wee bit higher when we speak to them. Okay, then. Okay… a talent, a talent, a talent…well, we invented naps, didn’t we? Nope, it was the sloths again. Rats! (Yup, they even helped us to understand modern medicine with that whole plague fiasco. We really have nothing.)

But the thing is, we do. Humans are great at…adapting. And sure, we can’t change colors, shed our skin, or change our sex automatically (we’re still having a lot of trouble with that one, even though approximately half the animal population can do it, and 100% of the animal population is fine with the fact that the other half are able to do it), but we are good at keeping on.

We can get beat down and get right back up. We can have a complete meltdown that we don’t talk about ever again, but somehow, we are still whole at the end of the day. Somehow, we’re the only animal that experiences intense emotional trauma that we inflict on ourselves. And truly, we’ve made it through some of the worst phyiscal tragedies known to this planet. (Granted, we also brought those on ourselves, but you get it.)

So, don’t worry about the next time that you mess up or you didn’t get what you wanted. Because you are absolutely going to be fine. Actually, you were built for it. You evolved to overcome it all. And if that knowledge still doesn’t work for you? Take a nap. The sloths are never wrong.

To Be Human

Here are some fun facts about animals:

A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds.

Electric eels can deliver up to 600 volts. That’s enough to kill an adult horse. 

Peregrine falcons can reach up to 200 MPH in a dive for prey.

Ostriches can kill a lion with a single kick. 

Elephants can smell water from miles away.

Honey badgers are well, honey badgers. But they can also crack a tortoise shell with their teeth.

Most animals are nothing short of amazing. Evolution has sharpened its knives and has carved most of them into efficient machines with powers to outlast their environment and their predators. They are stream-lined and made with progress in mind.

And humans?

Well…

We have the power to order high-priced coffee and remember embarrassing things that happened to us years ago.

So, okay. Maybe we are the species that evolution forgot. And maybe the cool stuff is coming in the next couple of centuries??? (Honestly, I could use a couple more arms. Or laser beams that come out of my eyes. Whichever comes first.)

But we have to remember that we already have our distinguishing factor. It’s not top speed, or powerful senses, or strong bodies. It’s our faults. It’s our flaws. It’s our mistakes.

I mean, think about it. If any other animal in the wild makes a mistake, slips up once, they could be a meal for another animal. But humans make mistakes all the time. In fact, we are defined by the flaws in our character and our behavior. We mess up, and we apologize, and we learn. It’s a constant cycle that we rely on to live, really. If we didn’t make mistakes and learn from them, we could never evolve. In fact, it is the only way that we can.

For example, our primal ancestors had to learn the hard way that sometimes a cave could act as a shelter for you, and sometimes it could act as a shelter for another predator. It probably didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t always on top of the food chain, and it certainly took a couple of human lives to realize that some animals should be feared. But once we did, we learned how to avoid them or kill them for our own food. We made mistakes, and we learned without having to wait until evolution equipped us with something to protect ourselves. We made tools and weapons, and we fought back.

So, the next time you get frustrated with yourself for doing something incorrectly, remember that you are actually fulfilling your role as a human. Your flaws are only an indication of your species, as much as tigers have stripes and honey badgers have bad atttitudes.

Do It For The Story

This was both the slogan and the excuse during college.

Wait, you have a test tomorrow? No, no, no, dude. DUDE. We need to rob a bank, grab some corn dogs, jump the fence to the community center, and draw mustaches on all of the “Rent-a-Cop” posters. 

And any sensible person would at least ask why. But your friends already knew the answer: It’s so that you can be the coolest person at the party, strangers gathered around, beer in one hand and the other hand slightly raised in the air, describing how you scaled the fence to the community center only to find that your best friend was hanging from his underwear at the top. Like your friend, all of the people at the party are also hanging: on your every word.

And really, this isn’t news. Humans have a long oral history. We love stories. It’s how we communicate dangers, humor, and understanding. We are completely fascinated with telling others what has happened to us in order to warn them or simply make them laugh.

But that’s the key. To tell a story, you need an audience.

Which brings me directly to my point. You can have all the money in the world. You can jet-set to Japan to see the sunrise only to race back to New York to see it again. You can wear bikinis in Hawaii and parkas in Alaska in the same weekend. You can rub elbows, and maybe even noses, with celebrities. You can buy a mansion and have a wing just for your dog. You can invest that money, donate it to charity, and make it all back again.

And that would be great, truly. But it wouldn’t mean anything without someone to talk to about all of your adventures, all of your experiences, all of your fears. It would mean nothing if you couldn’t share it with at least one other person (romantically or platonically).

You see, as a young person who is not entirely sure what she wants to do with this box of chocolates we call life, I’ve always figured that if I had enough money, all of my problems would be solved. I could travel the world, like I want to. I could buy a house and rescue all of the homeless dogs, like I want to. I could feed the hungry and make a difference, like I want to. Yes, I could eat lots of corn dogs, like I want to.

But in the end, what would it amount to if I couldn’t tell my story to someone? Is a sunrise seen alone as sweet as one shared? For that matter, is a corn dog?

That’s a lesson this social media generation can relate to: “pictures or it didn’t happen.” Well, your life is one snapshot in a billion. If there is no one to appreciate its beauty, does it really matter that it happened?

And I know, it’s sort of like a “if a tree fell in a forest” argument, but I wonder if I didn’t have life already figured out in college, when I did everything for the story. I wonder if I’m not trying to complicate everything now that I’ve graduated.

The point is, you can rob a bank, eat corn dogs, and draw mustaches on unsuspecting Rent-A-Cops. But if you have no one to talk to, no one to laugh or cry with, no one to enjoy the stories of your life with, you have nothing.

In the end, it isn’t what we leave behind. It’s who we leave behind, and what we shared with them that truly matters. Write your story and make it a good one so that others will want to share it, too.

I Love People. No, Really.

I absolutely love people. No, really. I do. And you will, too. That is, when you aren’t seeing them in a retail setting or on the roads or drunk at the bar. AKA at their worst.

Imagine them instead in their purest form. Doing what they love, or playing with their friends as children. The human race becomes a lot more tolerable when we allow ourselves to perceive them in this way. They even become enchanting.

But most of all, I love that people love people. Got all that? Isn’t it a beautiful thing when writers or poets render someone’s faults and quirks as a masterpiece in broad strokes of love? Here, let me give you a concrete example. Let’s take a decidedly annoying behavior and make it alluring. How about how your co-worker snaps her gum? To you, it resembles the sound of someone scratching a chalkboard while Fran Drescher laughs. But to someone who loves that co-worker and loves her gum-snapping abilities, it sounds like:

The crack of a gun in the crisp, morning air when the clouds are so low you can walk through them. You’re on a hunting trip, and that sound is the first indication that you have not traveled into the woods in vain. It is the sound of success, or of a hopeful longing that will soon resolve in vindication. It breaks the stillness and fills the air with authoritative resonance.

See? Here’s a short and friendly reminder that, at the end of the day, people are not their wants and their needs throbbing beneath their skin. People are poetry. They are the cute way they bite their lips after those lips have been chapped by the wind. They are the way that they put one pant leg on at a time, and how they jump around to get it around their hips. They are the way that they sink into the sweaters, and clutch warm mugs of tea. Sometimes, they are the way that they rage and cry. But mostly, they are the way that they grin at a child playing in a puddle, or when they leave a yoga class.

And we need to remember to see people in this way. Even when we can’t.