There are so many painful things that could be seen as purposeless. Like the millions of children growing up with bad nutrition, bad education, or difficult parents. The millions currently dealing with the effects of a virus. Why? Why are we feeling this pain and suffering? To what end?
Suffering = feeling a negative experience. That’s something scientists and religious leaders can agree on. What’s most important, and tricky to understand: I can feel suffering *before* I act upon it, and choose how to respond to it. That is incredibly hard to remember. When something happens that upsets me, I have it within myself to take a moment and analyze the event that I’m responding to.
But there’s a gap here to address: it takes self awareness, discipline, and lots of practice (and lots of mistakes along the way) to develop this control. Usually we’re talking milliseconds: someone looks at you weird, cuts you off in traffic, does something aggravating in a business deal.
Victor Frankl talks about “the space between perception and action”. You can work to widen that space so that you’re not reacting immediately to all of life’s problems. You can consider them, using your higher mind to choose appropriate responses rather than letting your instinctual response burst forth in the heat of the moment. If a holocaust survivor can think of pain this way, it’s proof that the rest of us have it in us.
I catch myself every day releasing anger, reacting before thinking. But I also try to catch myself doing good. When someone or something aggravates me, and I can muster a moment between perception and action to consider a better response, I mentally give myself a pat on the back. Because that’s really what being a good human is all about.
Soldiers yearn for wartime. But it’s not because they miss fighting. It’s because during war, they were part of a close-knit family who took care of each other.
I’ve felt a closeness to my employees and local business owners the past few days that is hard to describe. Sure I’ve felt the same anxiety as everyone else recently, but I’ve also felt a peace. I believe that comes from the strength of a good network. Until recently, the network of small business owners, food and beverage producers, and restaurant and bar employees has been relatively invisible to the public. But like a network of roots that weave together beneath the forest floor, we are all connected and communicate. And now the soil is blowing away. The network is exposed.
It’s up to all of us to protect the health of our network. Our community is not a list of company names and logos. It is a closely connected network of human beings who care about each other in ways that we didn’t really understand until recently.If you’re in our industry and reading this, you feel it too. No further comment needed.
If you’re reading this as one of our customers, this is where you can make a difference. To be clear, owners of small businesses that are either barely profitable or losing money (read: most restaurants) are prepared to sacrifice everything to make sure our employees are taken care of. Do you feel financially secure enough to spend the cash that you might have spent in the coming 3 months on lunching out, grocery-store alcohol purchases, dinner date nights, or any of the other ways we interact with you economically? If so, now is the time to buy a $100-$300 gift card to your favorite lunch place or brewery. You’ll spend it over the coming year or so, and the cash will help keep hourly and part-time employees paid.
I’ve felt a clarity these past few days that I know has been echoed around our community. Humans inherently trust each other with our lives – it’s how society works. Our current mission is to help each other survive and thrive in the midst of a storm of weirdness.I reminded our staff earlier this week: Remember that you’re never alone. For every news story about something terrible, there are a million kind interactions between strangers that go unreported. We all rely on each other, and trust each other.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.Hunter Thompson
Take care of whomever you love, and embrace the coming weirdness. We’ll all be a stronger community because of it.