August is a bizarre, awkward sort of month. If it was a person, she’d be a pimply, flat-chested tween – stuck in the no-man land between innocent childhood and cool adulthood. Summer is almost ending, fall hasn’t started just yet. July 4th festivities are long over and Thanksgiving is too far away. Waiting for some things to finish and for others to start creates a blasé outlook and this post will very much reflect that. I contemplated not writing at all this month but then decided against it. I figured a river doesn’t always have to run through It. Sometimes, thoughts can just be thoughts, and you can just be a passive observer. So here are some observations:
1. It was my mother’s birthday and while we celebrated with cake and pizza, it was clearer to me than daylight that she was one year closer to not being here. Then I remembered to be present and take in the joy on my mother’s beautifully aging face as she took a bite of her divine strawberry cake.
2. Statistics and Matt Ridley (the rational optimist) suggest that humanity’s quality of life has never been as good as it is now – we live longer, have richer diet, less disease, more freedom etc. My mind wants to draw peace from this, buy into the rationalism, yet my heart keeps getting swayed by the sickness oozing out from sores like Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Ferguson.
3. Law and social justice lean in favor of people with spouses and children – from taxation to maternity/paternity leaves to holidays to pop-culture representation of the concept of “family”. I’m not suggesting any of those are bad things. After all, the only reason I’m here writing these words for the ether is because my parents bought into the dream and decided to have me. All I’m asking for is some equality please. Isn’t it time we revisited our reptilian pro-reproduction bias? With 7 billion people crawling the surface of this planet, should we really be promoting the idea of more of us? (Btw 300,000 people were born within this hour, 150,000 died which means net net there are 150,000 more of us than there were when you started reading this post). And while I love the beauty of the parent-child relationship, I also wonder how many of us would make the choice to have children if we didn’t fear mortality or were immortal ourselves?
4. Speaking of immortality, I hear my more ambitious friends talk about “their legacy” as one of the core drivers for why they push hard on gaining success in the world. I love me some success but I question the motivation. Legacy assumes that we have consciousness of this world and a sense of “self” long after our demise. I don’t see anyone worried about what legacy they left behind to the world before they were born in this one. I believe that’s because there’s no recall and therefore no knowledge or care for the life before this life. So isn’t it safer to assume it’ll be the same once we exit this one?
5. And while I’m on my equity-for-all soapbox, shouldn’t people that pay more taxes have access to carpool lanes? If anything they have a greater right to the lane their money helped build. No, minivan driving person with 3 kids, I’m not hating on you. Just saying, please share the lane I helped build (by working my ass off).
6. Completely changing subjects, human beings stink – I mean literally, we stink. This has never been clearer to me than in Yoga class. And since it’s a place of acceptance (we leave judgment at the door), I’ve deeply internalized that in our unaltered state (no shower, no Secret deodorant, no Jo Malone), we’re a seriously stinky lot. Why can’t we always smell like we do in the morning when we get on the elevator for work with the blended fragrance of our shampoo, mouth wash and coffee?
7. And now that I’m off to the races for things to change about humans, I’d like to change PMS and the period-frequency for women. And I think if there were more girls and women in bio-tech, big pharma and science/technology in general, there would be more focus on this. Yes there’s the 6 month period shot but the list of side-effects runs a mile long. One more reason for me to work in a place that promotes girls in computer science, science and mathematics.
8. One of the few things more important than that, that I’d love to bring to every child in every school and every adult in every company or profession, is the knowledge of emotional intelligence, especially how to know that you’re feeling angry or scared (i.e. what does it feel like in your body), how to slow down and notice it (because it happens really fast) and what to do with it. Both feelings are incredibly valuable if they’re understood and incredibly corrosive and destructive if they are rationalized or avoided. Refer to rant #2. I believe the sickness stems from the lack of this most essential of know-hows.
9. I’ve been on a mission of self-awareness/self-criticism for the last decade and it’s been a great way to learn, grow and develop flexibility within my personality. While I stand by it and believe others would benefit from my simple rule (i.e. for every criticism of someone else, find one criticism of yourself and then address it) and despite leadership books extolling the virtues of humility and self-awareness, I find that it is perceived as “weakness” by many. My currently unresolved conflict is whether to continue to live visibly by this principle or play a traditional leadership role and mute the volume on self-reflection.
10. I’m excited about fall fashion, especially because the 90’s are back and I can actually remember what they were like (and because I love Reality Bites). A crisp peter pan collar, a masculine (but not too masculine) top handle bag, chunky knits (my mom and I just started a knitting project to get on the trend train) and a nice wrap coat – delicious! But I also remember being this excited about jewel tones, insect brooches and military jackets a few seasons ago. How fickle to be fascinated by things, just because they are in the future, even though they are so similar to things in the past? I wonder if this is limited to clothes & shoes or something more systemic to our psychology. Perhaps we need to always be looking ahead and attaching ourselves to objects and milestones to get a sense of forward progress and journeying that’s necessary to live out a long life. Perhaps it’s not in our DNA to just take in the simple joy of a bite of divine strawberry cake.