Disregarding all that doesn't really serve you

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 5, 2024, 3:53 PM | comments: 0

Long-time readers know that there was a time when I wrote a lot more about politics. I still do drive-by comments in response to news articles (that I actually read) on Facebook, but that's the extent of it. I still believe that there is right and wrong, and the political "sides" are not morally equivalent, and one is particularly dangerous to democracy. But I don't write about it because I'm not going to change any minds. My approach was dumb anyway, the idea that you could shame someone into reality with facts and figures, and well-formed arguments. Obviously, a non-trivial portion of Americans live in a decidedly non-real world, devoid of science and critical thinking, replaced by fear of everyone different and ludicrous conspiracies.

For as much as I still have a lot of anxiety about how things are going, especially with a teenager, I'm more selective about where I put my energy. The other day, Simon told me something about some situation or sentiment around some third party (not him), and it was something that I would not even consider engaging with. So I started looking under and behind things, and Simon asked what I was doing. I told him, I'm looking for the fucks I should give. He thought it was hilarious.

It's a very midlife thing to say, but we do indeed have a limited number of fucks to give. As a citizen of the planet, it is noble to want to leave the place better than you found it. And to find the balance, you have to accept that some things you can be concerned about but have limited ability to change. I'm fortunate enough that I can donate to causes ranging from civil rights to the arts to medical research, even though I can't write legislation, produce a musical or cure cancer. Hopefully I help move some needles though. There are more immediate concerns I have to pay attention to, like parenting and my day job.

There are pretty easy things to let go of though. Randos on the Internet are easy enough to ignore. Toxic relationships you can walk away from (if only college-age-me knew this). Day to day things you can't control, like your car getting totaled, it sucks, but better to move on.

I should mention that I fully appreciate that part of my ability to choose what to put energy into is because of my win in the birth lottery. Some people have it harder than others, for a great many reasons. You don't have to try and be their saviors, but I think it's important to be a voice for anyone struggling, especially if their voices are drowned out by hate and bigotry. We have to do better, and it's low cost to speak up for others.

I used to be angry, a lot, about all kinds of things. I learned in therapy that this might be because of my inability to blend in during my teen years, while as a capable adult, I'm always trying to compensate by exercising advocacy for others, as if they now are me then. Yikes. I still get triggered by bullies, as it turns out. These days, I feel like my head is at capacity, and there's less room for the anger and non-specific resentment. It's probably why I lean into making stuff, listening to music obsessively, and hopefully setting up good times for me and my family.


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