I decided it’s about time I refocus on putting my writing out there. I haven’t written a blog since I finished graduate school, over two years ago. Shameful. I still write in my composition notebooks daily, but lately it’s become more documentation than spiritual and existential reflection. I uprooted myself (again) a little over a year ago and moved 3,000 miles away from family and friends. This past year has seen more depressive episodes, occurring more deeply, than ever before. I know my family exists as a pillar of strength and support for me, so have assumed the increased frequency of depressive episodes are the result of detaching myself from this support system. I’ve blamed my lack of inspired writing on my depression – the lack of creativity. I haven’t been motivated to just write. I’ve tried to make myself just write, to varying levels of success. Recently I was reminded of the fact that I used to blog. I used to put my writing out there. The bad. The good. The silly. The inspired. So, I thought, let’s do that again. And, here we are. Here we go again….
I don’t like the direction I feel society is moving in. I do not fully desire to disengage and create my own little island of like minded beauties (although I did speak to doing this at lunch today). Diversity is one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity. One of the quotes I connect most strongly with is, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it”. I want to engage with people who frustrate me and view the world differently – as it pushes and deepens my beliefs and understanding of them. Strengthens my resolve. Of course, I say this within the bounds of – you can do and believe and say whatever you please as long as your belief systems and life does not impede on another’s right to live the life they desire and believe it. I can only be so tolerant. I do not tolerate beliefs that stem from fear. But I do see, in my ever optimistic soul, the opportunity to engage with those who come from fear based realities to gain awareness and break down their walls. I have no reason for optimism, but I have realized when it comes to my life, hope and optimism rule the day.
My blogs are so long because of all these tangents I stem off into. I think it’s humorous that I started stating I don’t like the direction society is going in while I sit typing this up on my phone while at a bar. I’m visiting a dear friend at her night job and there are a handful of individuals sitting at the bar of this intimate restaurant (consists of a posh bar and one small, currently occupied table), she’s busy and I thought: no better time to start blogging than the now! (I came from meditation)
Back on point, Whitney! So, society!!!
Eye contact. How increasingly rare and intimate an act. Everyone is glued to their phones. We are more connected, instantaneously, than at any other point in the history of the world, yet – I would argue – we very well may be more disconnected from other human beings than at any other point in history and its only getting worse. My go to is always the check out at the food store (if you still go to an actual individual – I find it a fascinating tell whether or not someone chooses the human option for check out or the electronic). Unless you’re going to Trader Joe’s where friendly banter (“How’s your day going?” Fuck! What can I say that is original?! “Fine”) is a part of the job requirement, you’ll be hard pressed to find actual eye contact and, God forbid, verbal engagement. And when you do find it, it’s usually not genuine. And when it carries on too long, everyone else in line huffs and puffs at the hold up in their very, very important lives. This isn’t exaggerated. I’ve spent years studying this. But this is more an American trend than any other country I’ve been to. Which I find fascinating (disclaimer: fascinating is one of my absolutely favorite words in writing. Goes back to Lester Bang’s 1979 review of Astral Weeks for Stranded).
Where are the eyes? Fixated on phones (as I typed that the woman next to me asked my friend, “Excuse me? Do you have an iPhone charger by chance?” Now her and the fella she is on a date with…sounds like a second date…are talking about the horrors of cellphones dying). Or lost on some technological devise (one of my most beloved materialistic pleasures are my wireless Beats, I get it). We don’t look at one another anymore. We don’t talk to one another. We fear those we do not know. Or, sigh, maybe we are just disinterested.
I talk to evvvvvveryone and annnnnnnyone. I’d say most of the time it’s positive, although there are plenty of times I am met with coldness and shuffle away feeling incredibly awkward (isn’t it interesting that my interpretation of someone else’s coldness is to presume myself awkward?). I crave human engagement more than any other urge I experience. I want to meet and get to know everyone. I want to know why people are as they are. I want to know their humanity, not just see it or intellectually comprehend it. And I want to take that knowledge and impress it on others. See! We are all so amazing and so beautiful and so, so profoundly fragile. So, please let us be kind. Oh so kind and gentle toward one another. Make eye contact and embrace every single beautiful and amazing soul you walk past or sit next to or go to bed to. Connect and choose to view from love and let go of our fears.
And put your damn phones down – face down! I am….
Whitney Joy Howard, MSW
Finally, it is OVER!!!!!!!!!! Pure Happiness.
Happy 28th Birthday to my high school
obsession mega crush, Jonah Green! Hope he’s doing well and having a fabulous day.
Just saw whatever I posted two posts ago didn’t show up 😦 I don’t know what I was reading, so that stinks. Oh well.
I have spent the day trying to get to work on my Advanced Policy Analysis paper, but as usual procrastination has won the day. It’s going to be a long night. One of these days I will make time to retroactively post some of my journal ramblings from earlier this month. You know, one of these days coming up where grad school will be all but a distant memory!!!! SO excited to get my life back starting at 9 PM in three weeks (26 April). Okay, I realize that it is closer to four weeks, but as of today it’s three weeks and six days – so three weeks!!
And, just for a random last thought, I can’t believe I will be 28 in a little over a week! Seriously having issues dealing with this. Doesn’t help that my partner will be 46 the next day. He certainly isn’t very sympathetic to my mini crisis…
Eleven years. Geez. 16 years old. Geez.
It’s weird…it isn’t pain. At one point it was pain. I clearly remember the events of the 29th and, perhaps, historically that should be the rougher anniversary. But….it’s just sadness – for how very young he was. I mean, had he lived, I bet today he wouldn’t even have remembered the pain that caused him to shoot his heart out. It would’ve been a far distant memory muted by the many, many joys of the past 11 years.
So very sad.
The other odd thing is the detachment I feel. I am more in turn with high school Whitney. I remember her and, in many ways, am still her. So it’s not as much a detachment as the Whitney of my childhood – but…I don’t know. It’s difficult to articulate. Matt probably wouldn’t have been a part of my life at all any more. I guess we’d be Facebook friends, you know? But – he’s a guy who was once a part of my life and has, in many ways, profoundly altered my path – but….there’s just this difference between who he was and his influence on my life. And – yes, sadness, but no longer pain.
The tragedy pf young deaths has so shaped my life, I have no clue who I’d be right now if none of these people died. Where I’d be. What I’d be doing. Who I’d be doing it with – you know?
External events bomb into our life and we go with them – or sit there in misery. Okay that is being incredibly simplistic, but give me this today.
I am beyond swamped with work and I cannot copy and paste from the journal page, nor do I have the time to transcribe then type it – so I just posted the whole bit in the previous post – but I just love, love, love that bit I mentioned. Middle and upper class people receive so much government assistance (the huge one being tax deductions for homeowners), yet are so vocal about: I don’t get any assistance why should some lazy, drug addict? We point fingers, “otherize” and talk about things we truly have no real knowledge of. We lack awareness of our own circumstances and what is behind the surface of the issues our nation faces today. It is so disheartening.
What is empowering, to me, is I can do something about this. I’ve always wanted to spend my life educating others about current misconceptions they harbor and bringing groups of people together in accurate knowledge and mutual understanding to seek out solutions. And, in about 7 weeks, my last day of grad school will be hours behind me and I may have a job with my favorite organization in DC and actual get to spend my time doing exactly what I have always wanted to do!! Fortunately I have a lot of resources in the form of research and journals at my disposal to use in my fight against gross misconception….
Happy Leap Day! I’m celebrating this once every four in L.A.!! 😀