Last night I got an e-mail from a friend who wanted to let me know a mutual friend’s nephew had committed suicide yesterday by jumping in front of a train. He was 21 years old. I don’t know what drove him to believe that tomorrow couldn’t possibly be better. He had his health. He had a loving family. He was only just starting out in life. And isn’t that what life is, full of challenges that will test us all over and over, again? To give up in the face of challenges…it should never really be an option.
It got me to thinking about how are we truly helping out those in life we love, particularly younger generations and the older generations. How are we helping them to cope with all the confusion out there, the inundation by the media of extremes – extreme poverty to 19 year olds winning $5 million dollar recording contracts and seemingly effortlessly, political parties mud wrestling over our futures but forgetting who brought them to the arena too frenzied in the mud and unable to see clearly. The message our media sends in a relentless stream everywhere we turn is our life is a crap shoot and we really have very little control over it. Those of us who have hit mid-life know that’s not the case for the most part, but we also weren’t raised in a world of information overload, opinion masquerading as news, broadcasting our most private thoughts to satellites to be shared across the world for others to manipulate as ‘the thing to do to be cool’ in a social web world, often to their detriment and adolescent ignorance. There is no time to really mature and adjust into handling life responsibly before others handle it for us. If you are over 40, you had that luxury. Imagine, calling growing up without what we have today ‘luxury’.
Our oldest generation is in many ways far removed from all this technology and as such, is becoming extremely isolated from the world we are creating. One would think with SKYPE and e-mail you would disagree. No, they are isolated and manipulated as they no longer have ‘real’ newspapers so for the most part they rely on televisions news which is overwhelming and mostly opinion and simply a platform for pharmaceutical commercials. Try to get their child or grandchild on the phone to have a ‘visit’. Granny isn’t texting and when she has you over for a holiday meal, are you too busy checking your phone for text messages from your cousin at the other end of the table to share with her about your life? Never mind getting annoyed she leaves you a voice mail that simply says, ‘call me’. You can’t be bothered and you’re rather annoyed she didn’t tell you what she wants. Texting is so much more efficient. Imagine, she just wants to hear the sound of your voice. Crazy grandparents. I know some of you who are reading this would give anything to hear the sound of your grandparents’ or parents’ voices today.
So, on this holiday I have one wish for you all. Put away your smartphone and shut off your iPads, laptops and PCs. Pick up your house phone when it rings. Turn on holiday music in the car as you travel instead of each of you being plugged into your iPods. Party likes it’s 1960 instead of 2011. You might just enjoy hearing the sounds of your relatives’ voices this holiday season because you never know when that chance will be gone forever. And talk to them. Really talk to them. Let them know you will always be their sunshine on their cloudiest of days.
Enjoy your holidays.