A Heart and a Hologram

I hate that I love social media so much. I hate that I rely on “likes” after I post an article or blog entry I’ve written–tiny signals of¬†my competency which almost always¬†make me feel validated. Paradoxically, I love that I get the recognition as an artist I so¬†unabashedly¬†crave–regardless of where it comes from. I love that I can¬†harp on¬†social media for being the ego trip that it is, while secretly¬†savoring¬† the accessible attention it provides.

I love basking in the glow of my computer screen, but I am dubious.

I wrote an article a couple months back about my conflicting feelings toward Facebook. Ultimately, I credit Facebook as the reason I was first exposed to recovery. At the moment, however, I feel annoyed by the sharp turns my friends and I take on matters of public opinion on controversial topics via the internet. Example one: mass shootings in America. The second anything happens in the news, we erupt into an opinion-centric beehive. We end up shitting all over each other for not being empathetic or sorry or informed enough. I appreciate all of the articles I see posted (then share), yet I find myself more reactive to things outside (or inside) of my control. It turns out that social media can make me just as susceptible to vitriol as I am to validation.

Now that I am a substitute teacher for a Catholic school, my feelings on attention have changed. I feel called to be an educator, not a traffic-generator. I¬†discovered a¬†boundless joy for teaching that I never saw coming. The last thing I wanted after I began writing for a living was to discover I was meant for something else. I’ve traded my need for “likes”¬†with drawings and hugs elementary school kids give me. How the fuck did that happen?

Sobriety has a way of humbling me.¬†Reality’s insistence on continuing to be a thing is kind of annoying, yet magical. Life on life’s terms looks a lot less messy when my eyes are in focus and my head is not up my ass. I live in Virginia, not LA; I teach more than I write; I save money instead of spending it. I am what one might call “an adult.” This is unsettling to me¬† because I thought adulthood meant sticking it to the man to do whatever the fuck I want. I lived that way for awhile–albeit drunk–and I was miserable. With nearly 21 months of sobriety under my belt, I am happier than I’ve ever been. I think this is by design,¬†just¬†not my design.

I read something recently the Pope said about us needing a “tenderness revolution.” A lot of haters think prayers and thoughts for victims and inexplicable¬†hatred are futile. I know in my heart that using social media as a platform for sending condolences, receiving recognition or bombarding my friends with music I like is no less useful than proselytizing about the Second Amendment. I also know that the only way my world changed is when I decided to love myself. I think a lot of us find our hearts are cynical and suspicious when we see that nothing seems to change in the world. So we change our profile pictures. I testify that we can’t change anyone else’s behavior but our own, and that is¬†the ONLY¬†thing¬†that will change what goes on around us. Einstein may or may not have said this, but I found a quote attributed to him that I’ll share here:

Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.

Social media is an excellent tool to exchange information and opinions (and for finding good quotes in context). It is also a tiny representation of a billion big lives condensed into one small screen or status. We can’t know the truth about a person or a situation unless we investigate for ourselves by living our own¬†lives in the best way we can. We have to be honest and good to ourselves first before we decide to opine about things we know little about.¬†We can create an online atmosphere of growth or grandiosity, the choice is ours. We can create a life lived as genuine people rather than projections.

We are humans, not holograms.

The biggest lesson teaching has taught me is that everyone¬†starts out¬†as a child, and adulthood does not change that fact.¬†The internet got big just as I was coming of age, and I am eternally grateful for that. I am so happy I never had to worry about Snapchat or Facebook in middle school, mainly because kids were mean, so was I, so was my unibrow. I did not know how to be tender to myself as a child or as an adult, but I learned because I got sober. I think social media could facilitate a tenderness revolution, even as hurt people hurt people. It’s just as likely that healed people heal people.

I speak from experience.

 

Photo courtesy of PopSci

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Spiritual Feminism

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately–and not the OCD kind. I don’t know if my newfound spiritual curiosity has to do with the recent¬†articles I’ve read¬†or if this is my way of “branching out”¬†in the¬†Higher Power / God department.¬†I spend a lot of time with my mother, who is a die-hard Catholic, and that woman really loves her saints and her Christ.¬†Her¬†hardcore love for¬†her church family inspires me to think beyond my Catholic School Biases.¬†Her journalistic work on the Pope, including seeing him in Pennsylvania, has helped me keep an open mind. The Pope himself has readily become my ongoing¬†#MCM for months now. In short, I’m really feelin’ the Catholic Church. All of the Christ-like examples in my life are shining forth with unconditional love and service work.

I just got¬†off the phone¬†with my sponsor whose conversation resulted in both of us agreeing Jesus¬†was a¬†G. He threw tantrums in temples, he hung out with “women of the night,” he¬†defied physics¬†and he gave his 12 besties guidelines to be super nice to people who needed someone to be super¬†nice to them, even if they didn’t deserve it. Not to mention he converted water into wine. I don’t drink (now), but even as a person in recovery¬†I concede that¬†a miracle of that magnitude wouldn’t be the worst for people who enjoy pairing a fancy red with their steak.

Furthermore, I think Jesus was a feminist. He hung out with Mary Magdalene on the reg, who was purported to be one of the busiest “whores” around. He told judgmental people to step off, then she washed his feet with her hair. One image comes to my mind where Mary Magdalene is¬†holding an egg (that I interpret as her owning the eggs in her body like a feminist would). According to biblical folklore and/or fact, “Caesar laughed [at Mary M], saying, Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red. But, before he could finish speaking, the egg had turned¬†bright red! The miracle of the egg turned many to Christ that day.” Men not listening to a woman who¬†is right?…hmm.

Lest we forget that Jesus’ teenage years and roaring 20s are conspicuously absent from the New Testament–I doubt very sincerely that this was an accident. Maybe Jesus went through rugged terrain finding himself during those years. Maybe his calling to be The Coolest Dude on Earth got figured out when he acted as people typically act¬†at those ages.

The articles I’ve read are vast in their subject matters, from Christianity to Planned Parenthood. The most recent ones that got me thinking are about Planned Parenthood. I know a few people who are pissy about the government’s hostile takeover of PP, as well they should be. The (white) men who are hellbent on legislating our sexual reproductive systems are a bit shortsighted in this matter. My guess is that many of these unfortunate-looking men got lucky a few more times than they’d care to admit–and by “lucky” I mean to “get some” after a night of tipping back whiskeys with the Good Ole Boys in DC taverns, cutting back-room deals to defund Planned Parenthood. My deductive reasoning leads me to believe many of the women these blowhards bedded were on birth control, have had mammograms and/or have had access to treatment they would not have otherwise had if it weren’t for PP. Seems like a double-standard to me.

I don’t know how Jesus would feel about any of this. But my understanding of the Beatitudes is that every person is equal under the eyes of God. My¬†understanding of the Constitution happens to coincide with Jesus’ words–that all PEOPLE are created equal. As a nation founded on equality and rigid Judeo-Christian “values,” I think something has gotten lost in translation. America may have been founded by gun-toting white people, but this country was built and sustained by women and black people. That’s just economics.

I seek to understand people, though I know this may never happen. The best I can do is find the God within myself and act accordingly. I am of the belief that Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all euphemisms for Right Here Right Now. My version of God speaks to me through music, and that’s just me. I have Stevie Wonder’s song “As” on repeat as I write this. He seems to know a thing or two about godliness:

Did you know that true love asks for nothing
No no her acceptance is the way we pay
Did you know that life has given love a guarantee
To last through forever and another day

Blessed are the female badasses, for they shall love no matter what.