The other day my husband and I were speaking with one of our neighbors. We get along well and we’ve spent some time getting to know each other over the last year since we’ve been here. Actually, that was the nicest part of moving here—having some people we could connect with. We haven’t spoken much in the last few months due to schedules and various illnesses, but now that the weather has warmed up, we were able to hang out a bit again. When we were having this conversation, the neighbor casually brought up some things about the neighborhood and previous people who had lived here. At first I didn’t think much of it—everyone has moments of gossip and this conversation mainly surrounded dandelions (which we have different opinions on but that’s another story). But then it turned to the door.
At one point this neighbor’s front door was painted green. Apparently this bothered one of the other neighbors and she would complain about it, stating she hated the color and it was annoying because she had to look at it. At this point of the conversation, my brain took a different turn and I shut down nice neighbor mode and went into incredulous, frustrated mode. We live in a world where we take the time to voice our concern about the color of a door. Not our own door, but someone else’s door that we can ignore or look the other way. Something that has zero impact on anything we do in our lives. If the color of someone else’s door bothers you that much and you have the time to continually address it, then you are pretty damn privileged. I mean, in this moment, there’s a war going on with potential to take out the world (depending on who/what gets involved), there are kids walking miles a day to get dirty water to have something to drink that may kill them, there are people struggling with mental health who debate every day how to go on. And you’re worried about the color of a door…on someone else’s house.
Later I spoke with my husband because I know it bothers him when I break down in social situations and it is something I’m working on. I apologized for the manner how it happened, but I would/will not apologize for what I said. I told him I don’t understand how people can think that way. Even as selfish as we are, we constantly insert ourselves in things that have nothing to do with us. If you want to look at things that truly impact other people, pick one of the topics I mentioned above. We are connected on so many levels, but not by the color of a damn door. My husband looked at me and said in equal frustration, “People don’t think like that.” To which I replied, “That is the damn problem.”
While my husband was trying to make the point he understood how people function, I was trying to make the point that this is the type of thing that leads to our destruction. Inserting ourselves in things that are none of our business and have no impact on us personally removes us from the big picture. We just want to voice an opinion to feel like we matter and we want people to change their behavior at our demand so we feel powerful. While this may be the common behavior, it is not working. This is what has led us to this point right now: women fighting for reproductive rights, insane gas prices, people working horrible jobs to barely survive, corrupt politicians, and the myriad of other global issues like global warming, a little pandemic, and a looming war to name a few. See, when we micromanage the daily lives of others, we lose sight of the big picture and how we are REALLY connected.
After my tirade, my husband said the words I hate the most, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” And he is right only to a degree. I can’t make people see what I do. I can’t make people care about these things like I do but I can certainly continue to voice this. The truth is, in his statement he opened up what I feel is the greatest issue in the world: we’ve all been deceived to think we can’t do anything about it, that we are locked into this way of life. He’s repeating what he was taught. The reality of that is he never even got the things he was promised for following this path—neither of us has. We’ve spent our 21 years together finding who we are and eventually “doing as we were told” in order to achieve what we thought was the dream…for far more effort than we knew. Granted, I do not regret where we are and I believe it all happens for a reason, but I know if we had taken the time to figure out what WE wanted prior to diving in, we may have made some different decisions.
So my friends, the point is that we are connected, absolutely and completely. We just aren’t connected by the color of our neighbor’s door. If you want to fight, fight for something that matters. And if you don’t know what that is, find something that matters to you. Expand your circle and your perception and find a way to put yourself in something bigger. Work to redefine how you perceive the world and where you can have an impact. Glennon Doyle shared her daughter’s polar bear story in Untamed. The gist of this story is her daughter obsessed over saving the polar bears and it drove Glennon crazy until one night her daughter said, “It’s just that now it’s the polar bears, and one day it will be us.” And THAT is the truth. If we don’t care about what matters now, it will be our undoing. Let’s fix what we can on a bigger scale rather than worry about someone’s color choice. Watch how that turns things around.