Caring- Concern – Community. Two Parts

Part One

One DIFFERENCE between Religion and Spirituality.

Religion is wonderful for many REASONS. It gives us a foundation on which to live our lives, definition, purpose, as well as a place to share like kind thoughts, philosophies and values. Religion offers traditions, customs, folklore, music, structure, leadership, social interaction (remember this one please), observances, rituals, guidance, direction, inspiration, support, FOOD, language, education and community (remember this one as well). It is, also, the place where amateur gamblers got their first taste of gambling in the form of raffles, 50-50’s and bingo.

The best thing about Religion is that it is portable.

Example: Let’s say you are living and working in location “A”. You get transferred, retire or decide to relocate to location “B”.

If you have kids in school the first thing you do is register your kids into the local or private school districts. The next thing you do is find and join your preferred House of Worship, hereinafter referred to as “HOW”. Both situations allow you to be part of a Community.

You do these two things or at least one of them to become part of a familiar, friendly, warm, welcoming, inviting COMMUNITY. You are now part of the whole instead of being isolated looking in from out since it is important to have human interaction beyond the workplace, breweries and anti-social media. Actually Social Media is mislabeled. It should known as “A” Social Media, since there is messaging instead of human involvement, the exchange of ideas, thoughts and general conversation / communications and eye contact. If you cannot get into someone’s eyes, where messages live, you will never get into their soul. I suppose the POWER OF DEFINITION has changed the meaning of Socialization. Oh, the professors will lament on this one, and the malls, for generations.

Many cities had neighborhoods of a diverse cultural Community. During the day folks would assimilate, ride the trains, subways and buses to work and back home to their familiar neighborhood where their native language was spoken, as they ate the foods (oh those wonderful smells and tastes which is what the explorers were looking for as they chased the spices, flavors and fragrances) of their countries, listening to homeland music and reveling in the history of their previous worlds, hopefully, passing family stories down to their kids, especially the language component. One of the recent Popes could speak most any language which meant, as he traveled the globe, he could say in the local language, “excuse me, where’s the bathroom”. Quite empowering. Give your kids your language and they are rich beyond money. Traveling helps too. Just ask the Study Abroad kids who traveled to countries where English was NOT the most spoken language. They survived and enjoyed their experiences.

Spirituality differs a bit. Spirituality is often explained but rarely ever well expressed because of its individuality. Perhaps spirituality is like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two alike. It allows you to make the decisions. You define your spiritual world. You bring in those things that offer you peace, calm, tranquility, serenity and void of the structure found in religion unless, of course, you want that structure.

Spirituality is more flexible, opening your mind, body and spirit to places heretofore, perhaps, unbeknownst to you. Mediation, music, exercise, creativity, art, nature, music, relaxation, aromas, massage, chanting, scents, fragrances and foods enlighten your world without rules, regulation and procedures.

As there is with Religion there is NO calendar in your Spiritual world. Look at the calendar and you will see that each month there is some sort of, Religious or not, holiday, observation and customary event to celebrate. Except, of course, for August when everyone rejoices in summer. The calendar is your event schedule many of the events  add to the stress, anxiety frustration and panic of doing it right. Perfect DOES NOT exist.

Part Two

What have we done “to”, not “with or for”, our kids, et al?

We school them with tests, measurements and evaluations. We encourage or is it push them to excel with Honors, AP, IB, PSAT, SAT, ACT, Exams, Tutors, Tutors and more Tutors.

We structure their FREE TIME with sports, arts, clubs, teams and activities.

Example: When our kids were in elementary school the local town offered a half day day camp. Word quickly spread around town causing the inevitable race and panic to get those kids registered or else. Sign-ups were at town hall beginning at 8 AM on a Monday morning. My gut told me to get there early. I arrived at 7:15 AM and was about fifteenth in line. When asked, I was told the folks first in line arrived at 5:30 AM. Don’t want to be blocked out like the guy trying to place a bet in the movie The Sting.

I was one of only a few Dads. There were five Moms in front of me, none of whom I knew so engaging in conversation was remote. I did listen, however, and soon discovered the five Moms were “tag-teaming” responsibilities as they exchanged checks for payment for tennis lessons, swim lessons, piano lessons, karate school, art class, gymnastics, soccer camp, dance class, private baseball skills training and of course academic tutoring for their elementary age kids. Once the logistics were completed four of the Moms were dispatched to their designated sign-up and payment responsibilities. Each Mom left with checks in hand and a defined destination. To miss one sign-up would cause a “glitch” (don’t you just love the word “Glitch”, sounds so terrible) in their schedules not for the kids but for the parents who planned their days around their kids’ filled hours of activities. These were probably the same parents who placed a “sticker” on the vehicle, probably an SUV, indicating their child is an Honor Roll Student at  ?????? Elementary School. Yes I have seen those stickers. Who’s it for, the kid or the parent? Look at me!!! Look at me!!! Look at Me!!! The kid doesn’t even know what Honor Roll is.

The same kids maintain that drive to strive throughout high school. Next they are thrust into the debt creating world of college where they exist by the necessity to survive. Here is where they find out who they are or who they think they are at least as they were constantly told earlier in life. All of a sudden the valedictorian is in class with twenty other valedictorians and discovers “I ain’t that great” or am I. Quite shocking, revealing and unnerving to find out you’re not the best of all the rest even when you put yourself to the test. I’m just a regular person and that is okay or is it? An awakening is happening not for the kid who already knows, but for the parents.

College offers many wonderful, thrilling, exciting, challenging, rewarding, worthwhile, enlightening, enriching ways to learn and do things previously not approached. If they are lucky they can learn about themselves as well. How do know what is good unless you have experienced bad. Things such as making the bed, doing the laundry, taking out the trash and cleaning the shared bathroom are all part of self discovery as is accountability, responsibility and consequences. Oh wait, we hire people for that. Wrong move parents. When you do you are still enabling your kids and not empowering them.

College gives kids the chance to take root, grow, blossom and succeed. They actually feel good about themselves earning, not just receiving, affirmations for the work they do. College gives kids the chance to expand their worlds, explore opportunities they never knew existed and accomplish more than they ever thought possible. Kids achieve beyond their imaginations and expectations and still maintain grades, participate in events and, oh yes, indulge in the “social” component including gatherings, tail-gating and debauchery. They soon learn there is more to life than grades. Priorities!!!

Graduation. Celebration. A Goodie Bag. Travel. Work. Career. Education. Unknown. Undecided. Help!!!

Overnight kids go from a full plate of daily involvement, learning, growing, prospering and thriving. In one move they are back home in their rooms with only the illuminated screens to keep them connected to a life they created while away from home.

Home which has been loving, nurturing, accommodating, safe, warm, inviting and comfortable is still is the same as when the kids were younger. Only now a young adult has reentered the premises without the college world that offered support, freedom, independence, autonomy and empowerment. The plate becomes empty and in need of filling and fulfillment. Time to start over, not necessarily from the beginning but with new definition.

Example: Kids go from everything to almost nothing. Now the ugliness of loneliness, lonesomeness and being alone quickly sets in and eats away at the heart and soul of previously vibrant, energized and productive kids. Loneliness is everything it is cracked up to be. When the experts analyze, critique and dive into it they will discover that Loneliness is the root cause of depression, anxiety, stress and most everything else associated with our feelings. Medicine companies will deny this based on their experts and continue to prescribe doses to adjust our mood and feelings numbing them along the way. Why do you have to get numb to feel something? One possible solution is simple to say but a bit difficult to do, especially since kids are not in the built-in college Community where most everything is the readily available and easily accessible both, the good stuff and not so good stuff as well. One message or preferably one phone call actually talking with a real person, is all that is needed to get a game going or get some food. Best of all walking is the preferred mode of transportation. Community. Cities are being reinvented. Nobody will cook. Take out reigns. Life in a POD. Space, or lack thereof, will eventually replace Loneliness as the culprit for our woes.

Keep busy and indulge in the things that make you feel good about yourself. Keep away from things, and more importantly, people, who bring you down. Stay focused on yourself. You come first. Being alone is okay. You can shop alone. You can go for a walk alone. You can do almost anything alone. But when that is done and you are still alone, loneliness creeps in and consumes your spirit, energy and drive. Humans are social beings and we have the need to interact well beyond the illuminated and charged screen.

It sounds easy but we know it is not. If it were easy then everyone would do it and we all know that is not the case. Like everything in life it takes work, especially once you leave the cocoon, shell and nest of the life you created on your own but not alone. Nobody can play the game of life alone.

Now you are probably thinking where am I going with all this?

Time to blend Part One and Part Two. Remember “HOW” means House of Worship.

Part of Religion is to be a member of a HOW for all the reasons mentioned in the opening part of this BLOG Post. The HOWs cater to young families with children offering religious school, activities for the kids, charity and family events. HOWs also, focus on their more elderly and senior members nurturing them in hopes of receiving some, part or all of their accumulated good fortune which the HOW wants to receive when the Will is read. No cynicism here just the truth and facts both of which are my limitations.

Who is missing from the equation? Kids, ages 22-30+. The HOWS have little, most have nothing to offer this demographic. HOWs wonder why membership is down. All they have to do is look at the gap in those to whom their services are most needed. Nothing fancy. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a person or small group of kids with whom to have lunch, go bowling, go for a hike, visit a museum, beach, white water rafting, zoos, board games, movie night or any of a number of activities kids once did in their youth. For more see my BLOG Post about BOREDOM.

In addition to the kids who move back home, consider the kids who relocate to a place for a one-two year program or job not necessarily school. Who do they have? Nobody except co-workers in their 30’s, 40’s and older most with families or struggling with their own stuff. Oh sure, join a gym. Many nice places to go and visit but who wants to go alone (maybe once or twice but wouldn’t it better, healthier and enjoyable to have someone with whom to share the experience?), eat alone, communicate with the illuminated screen which only darkens our day.

The HOWs are missing the chance to perpetuate their HOW, build their membership and provide a much needed service for an awaiting, eager and ready audience. When pressed, kids will tell us they need some help. Listen to the kids. If you do not hear their words watch their behaviors which are signals for help. This method may have not been needed in previous generations but in the present and based on what we have “to” our kids it is greatly needed and also much appreciated but they’ll rarely tell us that. Their smiles will let us know we done good!!!

Those who are hurting and longing for social connections to fill their time with positive, healthy, appropriate, familiar and fun stuff to do. Anything that evolves from this is a bonus, perhaps the start of a new family generation. Let the cycle continue. Listen to the kids. In most situations they know better than the elders.

I am, also, including the Military Veterans who return home from seeing and doing unspeakable things in unheard of locations in the name of freedom while others increase their portfolio amounts. Daily they struggle and suffer from all sorts of issues emotional, physical and environmental. They, too, are longing to re-connect with their “buddies”. By the way, the relationships developed during college and military life are essentially irreplaceable. Only folks experiencing those relationships can understand and appreciate the magnitude and depth of the human contact, energy and spirit that drives us. Daily, Military Veterans  are eliminating themselves from our world.

Next on the list are the millions of “Social Media” enthusiasts who are desperate for companionship. I have 500 friends and nobody to talk with, more importantly, nobody who will listen to me with understanding, empathy and compassion. No judging me since I need to get things out to somebody preferably not a stranger. Who will be my friend? Won’t you be my friend? Who wants to have lunch? That is the cry, plea and need of those seeking comfort, companionship and control.

How about the rest of us. What is there for us. We’re on our own. Unless we get lucky and find a safe place to be. Where is our next Community? What can The HOWs provide in addition to their taking?

Now it is time for me to beg, yes beg. I beg you, as you sit gazing at an illuminated screen in your cubicle, office or “bull-pen”, meandering through the mall glued to your hand held illuminated screen or in a vehicle, hopefully as a passenger, again aimlessly looking at your hand held or dashboard illuminated screen for directions to anywhere, I beg you to forward this BLOG Post to everyone in your connective world most of whom have, themselves, gone through the subject matter of this BLOG Post, know someone going through the ordeal and want to make everyone aware of the most important part of this commentary: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The HOWs are part of the overall problem and can be, with a little effort, be a bigger part of the solution if they so choose. Reasons rather than excuses. Solutions not blame.

Loneliness abounds. We are reminded of it by well known artists namely The Piano Man, Sgt. Peppers Heart and Only the Lonely. You have make the effort not to be lonely, lonesome and alone. In order to get there first you must leave. Leave the loneliness behind you and build a beautiful, hearty, positive life for yourself, of course with a little help from your friends, real friends that is not the imaginary artificial created by electronics and rechargeable devices. Face to face friends. With you in the tough times friends since anyone can be with you when things are going well. Fair weather fans they were once known as. Love you while you are winning and leave when you when you are not. Friends. Define yours. You have that power. You only need one!!!

Pretty heavy stuff for a Monday. It came to me yesterday while chatting with a family friend of many years. Thank you my friend.

You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. Please do not pick your friend’s nose. Hey, I needed that after writing this post. Lighten up a little.

Keep It Simple- Keep It Real












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