We-my SO and I-live in a condo. We’ve been here for 12 years and know many of our neighbors. One of our neighbors puts together a Happy Hour about once every month or so, always inviting the same group of us-about 5-6 people. It’s no big deal- a BYOB thing that starts around 5:30. I usually leave by 7. While I was drinking, I left by 7 so that I could go home and finish up my opened bottle of wine without anyone being a witness to it. Giving the impression that I was a totally cool, under control , can stop at one kind of drinker. To be honest, I don’t think anyone gives a shit and a few of those people knock it back without thinking about what anyone thinks. Now I leave at 7 because by then, I’m done. I’ve had enough chit chat, I’m not getting drunk and I want my dinner.
There’s one woman that’s always invited. She’s lived here awhile-everyone owns their units so it’s not a transient group. Anyway, we talk when we run into each other in the parking lot and of course she’s always at the Happy Hours. While she’s nice and whatever she is, I just can’t really resonate with her. I’ve asked myself over the years why not, but can’t really put my finger on anything. She’s about my age, divorced and worked for many years at a hotline for domestic violence. Joe Biden is her hero (who is a good one to have). I know that she cares-at least about domestic violence. She quit that job a few years ago and doesn’t work anymore. She posts a lot on Face Book. I get the impression that she thinks that she’s a 2016 version of an almost 60 year old, Southern Carrie Bradshaw-from Sex and the City. I don’t mean that as a compliment. In almost all of the photos she posts there is either a glass of wine or a cocktail. We notice those things now, don’t we?
So at this particular Happy Hour, we were talking about some of the animals around here. We are on a canyon-it’s woody and beautiful. There are coyotes at times. There’s a lot of deer. I love the deer. And while you’re not supposed to, I feed them on the QT. We don’t compost and we eat so many veg and a ton of fruit. So, I keep a bag and put rinds and ends and scraps in it. Then, when the coast is clear, I dump it in my secret place. Another neighbor has fed a feral cat-Sylvester-for years. And, I’ve caught him feeding the deer bananas. Anyway, at the Happy Hour another neighbor and “CB” (Carrie Bradshaw) started talking about Sylvester and she made some kind of negative comment about him and wished that the other guy would quit feeding him. Then they started talking and laughing about a video she’d watched where someone put a kitten in a dumpster. That pissed me off. And, I said so-nicely of course. But, I said that I did not find that funny at all. In her long Southern drawl she said, “Wellllllll, it didnnn’t get hurrrrt.” (Only a Texan can turn a one syllable word a 5 syllable word!) I said I still didn’t think it was funny and that studies have shown that when children exhibit this type of behaviour towards animals it’s usually an indication that they have some serious problems. Because this didn’t happen in my home, I let it go. However, it continued to bother me for several days and I found myself asking myself what it was that was bothering me. When I figured it out, I sent her a text.
First, I started off saying that I hoped that her upcoming trip was a good one. (It must’ve been because there were plenty of “beverage” pictures posted on FB from all the different places she went). I went on to say that I had been wondering why I was so bothered by the video she said she’d watched and her reaction to it. That what I realized is that her reaction to it and even the fact that she watched it showed a “disconectedness”. That so many of us are disconnected not only to other human beings but from everything else in the Universe. This includes animals, plants. Everything. I went on to say that I felt that we are all connected-all created by the same Force sharing the same space. That this disconnect is what helps to cause and contribute to wars, to racism,to terrorism, to domestic violence. Being disconnected allows us to be “us and them”. That I feel that in many ways it’s a disregard for Life itself. Her response? “Okay. Sorry to offend”. I said that I wasn’t offended, that it made me sad. I will say that I did not do this expecting anything from her. For all I know she thinks I’m a total nutcase and is laughing about me while watching that kitten in the dumpster video. I said it for me. Because not saying something, in my mind, was the same as condoning it.
While this may make no difference to CB or have any impact on her life or behavior, I have noticed an effect on me. When I start to judge someone-without knowing them-say someone I’m walking past in the grocery store-someone I will never know, never speak to and probably never see again-but all the same making a judgement, I find myself saying to myself,“Disconnected”. Telling myself that I am disconnecting. Reminding myself that we are all connected. We don’t all have to like each other. Or agree with each other. Or hang out together. Even so, because we are all human beings, we are all connected. I am reminded daily-hourly- here in the US of A right now of the disconnectedness-by what’s happening on the political scene. How one candidate is giving voice to thousands of people who believe in the Us and Them way of being. People who will act on the least provocation to unleash pent up hatred.
Of course alcohol is a wonderful way to be disconnected. To stay disconnected. And maybe that’s the whole thing. If we can allow ourselves to be connected to ourselves, then it’s harder to be disconnected from others. If we can only allow ourselves to learn and do the work-whatever it takes-to connect with ourselves. To work past the pain, the anger, the fear, whatever it is that keeps us wanting to stay disconnected from ourselves. To learn to stop using alcohol to stay disconnected from ourselves. Because to me at least, if we can connect with ourselves-if we can learn to not only tolerate but to love ourselves, then we can’t be disconnected to others.