After living abroad for about the last 10 years of my life (with short stints in the States), I have come to realize that we Americans are an extremely disconnected, cautious society. To be fair, I realize that the media has perpetrated a lot of the apprehension. But in my assessment, we’ve gone beyond careful to disengaged.
Recently, I move to New York. I have been here for 3 months. While I find it an exciting city, I have also found it to be the epitome of all that is wrong with the world. My journey into this unfamiliar outlook on life started at Starbucks. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am an avid Starbucks fan. I don’t go there because I necessarily like coffee or because Starbucks does or does not represent some moral ground. I went there because as I traveled the world, it was familiar. It brought me a sense of grounding in a new, unfamiliar world. Plus, the baristas were always fabulous and friendly. I knew them. They knew my dog, my drink, and me. It was always a great way to start my day.
Dear Melania Trump,
Please take a moment to read this letter as I think it might resonate with what is within your heart as a woman, advocate, and mother. We don’t know each other, and we will probably never meet. But that isn’t because we run in different circles or because your husband is the President. It is simply because I believe we are defined by the company we keep. It is within this one seed of truth why our worlds may remain separate. That said, I think I can safely say that you have sent the world some very mixed messages over the past 6 months. So, as one strong woman and child advocate to another, in the pursuit of understanding and in an effort to gain some clarity, I would like to ask you some questions about some of your recent choices.
As I have traveled around the world, each new adventure has taken me on a journey of the mind, body, spirit, and soul. Some of the lessons have been harsh learning curves and while others have been glorious windows of possibility and joy! For me, Paris was more than a just window; it was a door into a beautiful world that I will never forget. Some of what I learned is mundane and the other lessons have had a profound impact on me. But each lesson is burned into my memory and branded on my heart.
Now that I am back in the US, I really miss the simplicity and charm of Paris. I also miss the people and the way of life. Being in New York, I am reminded of how disconnected and hurried Americans can be. I watch couples sit together for a meal without even so much as looking at each other because their phones captivate them. People here rarely smile. Most people look stressed and unhappy. People rarely connect physically. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw two people hug or kiss. It’s like people have given up on the good bits of life. So in an effort to prompt change, my advice is to live life like a Parisian for a day. Who knows, it might be addicting (or prompt a trip to Paris).
As we continue into 2017, I think we should all embrace the motto “Slow Down.” It seems that with the advent of technology, job demands, the gym, children, friends, and life, we are constantly on the go. Work hours seem to extend from 40-45 hours a week to upwards of 60-70 hours. We need gadgets like iPads, Smartphones, and other “Smart” accessories to keep in touch with each other. We text, Skype, Facebook, and What’sUp each other to maintain the relationships with our family and friends. But where is all the fast-paced living leading us? Sure we might have more money, a fancier car, expensive clothes, a nice house, and the latest gadgets. But let’s do a “real” inventory check on where we stand in our lives. How are you getting along in our relationships? How are your health and emotional well-being? Are you really happy or just getting by? Better yet, when is the last time that you have even slowed down long enough to really contemplate on these questions. If you are like most people, it’s been a long time (if ever).
As I move around the world, I can’t help but notice that the world seems, frankly, less kind. On a global scale, this may seem somewhat obvious to most. But on a personal level, this is a bit more elusive, but quickly starting to become an epidemic.
I decided to take the time to research my theory to see if my thoughts had any merit. First, I reviewed behavior. What I found was that many people are curt or simply unresponsive to their fellow human beings. We have whittled our interactions with people down to simple, disconnected, rote responses consisting of “I’m fine, no, yes, sure, fine, whatever, or ok.” In addition, we text responses that consist of 165 characters or less, and we use emoticons to share feelings. Many of us have resorted only to answering our phones when we “feel like it.” Then to add insult to injury, when people do spend “quality” time with their friends, they are usually phubbing them (phone snubbing).
While here in Paris, I have met the most interesting international travelers (mostly due to the charm of my 7 pound Maltese, Lia). The other day was no exception. I met a wonderful woman from New Jersey. As we got to talking, I found out that she had voted for Trump. Now I did not vote for Trump. But my reasons were less about politics and much more about psychology and emotional stability. That said, I was curious to know her thoughts and the rationale behind her choice. Now the details of the conversation are not important. What is important is that the more we talked and listened to each other, the more we found common ground. This isn’t to say that I agreed with all her points, nor her mine. But it is to say that we found a space in between our differences that we infused with understanding and LOVE.