My intention this week was to bemoan our modern-day reality of so many living their lives through the filtered lens of their mobile devices. All I see is faces behind mobile screens, filming, documenting, and living for the social media post, merit and standing validated by the online popularity contest of anonymous fingers double clicking their votes while mindlessly scrolling feeds.
Our lives have become a reality show. It’s free, it’s cheap, and it is demeaning.
Only yesterday, I was fortunate enough to experience an evening of powerful prayer. Sadly, it kept being violated by the ringing of phones. And by people answering them. Loudly.
If we cannot turn off the ringers on our phones for a few minutes of connection, how can we expect to find the space needed to connect to ourselves? When do we breathe, pray, learn, read, connect to one another? When do we live?
But I changed my mind. I cannot write about this because the critics —live dear ones and the others in my head— will accuse me of hypocrisy, lamenting mobile devices and our endless connectivity while promoting my denunciations on the very channels I am mocking.
It is those same critics I have fed and nourished recently that almost stopped me from speaking from my heart, questioning my choice of language so I can distance myself from the “woo woo” spiritual hippies that have no place amongst “real” humans busy changing the world on this planet, and not proselytizing from space. It is crucial for my success to safely place myself in the matter-of-fact science-leaning team whose vocabulary does not include “light,” “peace,” and “love.”
It was Brene Brown who first pointed out to me the armour we construct and haul with us in life. As time goes by, this armour gets heavier, and with it the toll on our backs —and our lives. As our telephones ring and social media apps ping, we lose ourselves in the mine-fields we land ourselves in, sinking knee-deep with the unbearable weight of our cast-iron armour, all the while deluding ourselves into believing we are protected from the world, when in fact the mine we are avoiding is the one lodged within.
It was also Brene Brown who brought to life this quote by Theodore Roosevelt. It in fact hangs on the walls of my most trusted non-critics (go figure):
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Critics speak of lofty goals and grand aspirations, while they sit on their velvet couches, shielded from the rain. They watch from the bleachers, filming and documenting behind the lens of their phones. When it suits them, they elevate those in the arena. Until they don’t. When the man in the arena falls, they mock him. When he gets up, they cautiously watch. If he rises, they cheer. If he stumbles, they jeer.
Those are not my people, nor should they be yours. Our people are those who walk with us, who hold our hand at the starting line, and run along the course to cheer us on when no one is watching. When we are alone, tired, doubtful, but still moving, they extend their arms with nourishment. Most importantly, they stand on the side-lines at the finish line, behind the critics with the masks who are celebrating our triumphs for the social media post. They stand tall, quietly shedding tears of pride and awe at our defeats and (possibly) victory, their mobile phones on silent, blind to the light, peace, and unconditional love radiating from their hearts.
It is not the critic who counts. It is those who dare greatly, every day.
My armour sits on the floor under my seat. It is too heavy to carry around. I have too much work to do. I know you do too.
Peace, love, and light.