Wednesday, January 11, 2012

As You Like It

One Saturday afternoon, as I divested the interior of my car of a week's worth of empty Capri Sun pouches and chia latte cups, Jack appeared on the deck urgently shouting, "Mom! Mom!"
   In the milliseconds that followed, I imagined smoke billowing from the basement, an armed robber busting through the front door and/or the toilet overflowing. I hurriedly extracted myself from the cramped backseat of my Honda.
   "Jack, are you okay? What is it? What's wrong?" I shouted.
    "North Carolina is up by three points!" he said, pushing his iTouch under my nose so I could see the score. Then he let out a little yelp and ran back into our not-on-fire-not-broken-into-toilets-are-working-properly house.
    In the state of Alabama it's heresy to admit this, but I am a football-agnostic. I believe there might be benefit to following Auburn or Alabama, but I'm just not comfortable with that belief until I can be shown definitive proof. Jack, however, was swept up in Cam Newton fever last winter and the thrill of seeing Auburn go all the way to the Championship was enough to christian him a die-hard fan. (He deftly shifted loyalties and backed the Tide at this year's BSC National Championship.)
    Throughout that afternoon, Jack apprised me of the game's progress, and I mustered as much enthusiasm as I could. I appreciate his interest in sports, but what's fascinating is his overwhelming need to share the play-by-play with me.
   It must be an inherent part of human nature to want to share our interests, ideas and experiences. The 750 million members of Facebook are proof positive of this burning desire. Since we've entered the Age of Instant Affirmation, everyone and—quite literally—their dog wants to share with their network of family and friends. We think (or hope) that someone out there will "Like" our posts and gain some insight, or at least a chuckle. And it is fun to read all the posts, and many of them are very funny, informative, even educational. 
   Of course, I'm right in there too, uploading my life for all to see. (And yes, this blog provides even more evidence of my compulsion to share.) Yet, usually the retelling of an event, or even a photo, is a pale comparison of the real deal. And most of my posts are mundane: "Look, I made a pumpkin pie!" or "Check out Jack's bowling score" or "Hey, I'm in Central Park eating a pretzel!" Why isn't it enough to simply experience something cool and wonderful and just enjoy it quietly by myself? Is this a matter of "I share there for I am"?
  A dear friend gave me a copy of Simple Abundance for Christmas and one reading talks of appreciating "everyday epiphanies—occasions on which we can experience the Sacred in the ordinary." This practice is central to living each day, taking in every nuance with the deep and sincere gratitude that it could be your last. But does sharing everyday epiphanies make them more poignant? And what if no one else Likes my epiphany? Do I require consensus to make something remarkable? I suppose this line of logic is akin to the old chestnut, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?" 
  One odd side effect of being single is having no one in particular with whom to share the epiphanies of my life. This morning, for example, as I read aloud a particularly beautiful and profound passage on impermanence, was it less beautiful and profound because there was no one there to enjoy it with me? The answer is no. If an inspiring verse is read aloud and no one is around to hear it, it is still profound. I Liked it, and it makes no difference if anyone else likes it or not.

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