Saturday, May 8, 2010

Every Man for Himself....Hell yeah!??

That's the American way, no?  That's the pioneer spirit....straight outta that whole westward HO, expansion thing, right?  "Get while the gettin' is good."  Right????

From the lone wolf cowboy iconography that pervades our American mindset to the reptilian yet oddly emulated Gordon Geko/Donald Trump icon....our culture too often puts up that attitude as a goal.  Even we moms get this message hammered at us: "Gotta make time for me," "Are you getting enough, YOU time? " So, that's how we should operate, right? Hmmm...

Now, I'm not saying everyone actually lives this way all the time. But at it's core, it's base greed. So, what I want to say is that this is something I've been stewing about this week, after last week....seeing it too much in  my own family, and even myself.  That stance, of "what about me?" and "I'm just looking out for number 1,".....it is, in it's own way......a kind of hell.

Hell, yeah, it is.
Edvard Munch, Anxiety 1894

I think it is what hell will be, too, eventually.
Hell is, to a large degree, our own construction, right here right now.
We create our personal circles of it.
Hell is when we consciously, intentionally, shut others out.
Hell is looking only to ourselves.
Hell is navel gazing.  Even when we do it unconsciously, unintentionally, there it is.  What did Buckaroo Bonzai say? "Wherever you go, there you are."  Right, that applies even to hell.  However you get there, on purpose or by general neglect of intention, there you are: hell.

And if we are NOT vigilant, and are not fighting EVERY single day against our natural tendency toward this kind of natural consuming slippery selfishness....we lose.  Period.

If we don't fight against that tide, daily, we will find ourselves and indeed our whole family slipping perilously towards it.  Kids are naturally programmed to grab for themselves, be it toys or the last cookie or the best place in the car.  We, as parents, are supposed to train it out of them.  But, we cannot if we are too busy, too loudly, putting out the licking tips of hellfires all around as this selfishness crackles through a family. Our good parenting instincts alarm us to the danger, all the time.  It is the most insidious danger to any of us, and to our families.  That navel gaze, though, is a tough habit to break and one that can create a stranglehold before you realize it's choking you.

The only way I see to loosen it's grip, douse those licking flames, is to slow down, simplify, {'nother post that, later} look out.  See beyond you..by which I mean, me.
I need to see each child, and what's going on with them, right then, not just with my reaction to what's going on around them.
I need to stop paying so much attention to the reactions it all creates in me, and instead find a gentler way and lead them out of it too.

No.  It's not really the American way; nor should it be.  Despite what we see and hear all around us, shouted at us from every electronic box,  it is most definitely not every man for himself; Survivor be damned.
It is every man for each other.  And that is what will save us.

Even right now, on a topical news level - we are seeing this good play out, right here in our flooded town.  It is what is making this devastating flood keep our town and city from breaking...the people here are reaching out to each other, strangers and friends alike.  A hellish disaster is being overcome by the heaven of reaching beyond our own self, to each other.  This town is pulling itself out of the flood waters by looking to care for our neighbors.

Here's what I know, it's been a very tough few weeks here in this Coffeehouse!  Some of that  has been being over scheduled, overtired, overrun, overstressed.... each and every one of us.  It's crunch time. End of year events and trips and graduations and confirmations and programs, all jammed into a very small fixed amount of time.  That has made each one of us have a harder time to push back that base selfish striving.  Tempers short, gentleness....gone.


The good news is that we get to try again.  I get to try again.  Every day.  Many many times every day.  We get to redirect and try to reclaim that gentler manner, and look out beyond ourselves.  Heck in  my family, that opp comes around oh, every 8 seconds or so.  But we have to try.  We have to fight against that oh so human impulse to be concerned primarily about, well, us.  Me.  And so I must and will set my mind to it, and deliberately choose to step out of that loop.  Hell, no.  Not now, not then, no more.  I choose to look again, out, again...without taking the register of "how do I feel about this/them/him/her?"  But just to look out and try again, softly.  That very effort brings the heaven of family right back into our/my hands...right here, right now. 


3 comments:

Maria Therese said...

Happy Mother's Day! Hope you have a wonderful day! I will be praying a special rosary in honor of all Mothers, Mothers to Be, and Women who hope and pray to be Mother's!

May God Bless you and your family!

Love,
Maria Therese In Mass :)

Erin said...

I love it! This ministered deeply to me. Thank you.

Jean said...

Amen....Sister!