Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good vs. Evil

I, like most Americans, am having a really hard time processing what happened in Sandy Hook, CT on Friday morning.  I am having trouble understanding what would allow someone to do such terrible, awful things to hurt so very many people.  I can't seem to comprehend why these events keep happening over and over and over again.  This world we live in, or at least this country that we live in, seems terrifying these days.  We can't fly without at least a thought in the back of our minds that a terrorist might somehow take down the plane.  We can't seem to get through a year now without some freakish weather event, be it an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, or all four.  Now we can't go to a movie theater, mall, or even an elementary school without looking over our shoulders and worrying that a crazed man or even more shocking--woman--that we have never met might decide to take our lives into his or her hands.
I have always been someone who believed in good triumphing over evil, but sometimes it seems like evil has a head start.  It only takes one terrible human being to steal a gun and shoot up a school, but millions of people can give money to a charity and it still might not be able to fix a child's cancer, or heal the mental or physical wounds of a veteran, or help a child who grew up in poverty to get an education and a job.  I know there are so many more good people out there than bad, but it seems so much harder for the good to make a splash.
Sure, there is a wonderful post going around on Facebook right now about "26 Acts That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year," and for a second it gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but it is not enough.  I want to believe that everyday a police officer puts shoes on a homeless man.  Why is that so uncommon that he gets a Today Show appearance?  Why are there not millions of people going up and offering pieces of clothing to homeless people each day?  I thought it was adorable that there was a security guard at Disney who went around getting autographs from all of the little girls dressed as princesses, but why should it be so unusual that children feel important?  Shouldn't every child in the world have someone hug them each day and tell them they are special and they are loved?  There were photos of people rescuing pets during storms.  Why aren't we all adopting pets, providing foster homes, or volunteering at organizations like Monsters Milers or the SPCA?
I believe that all of the good people are just waiting for opportunities.  Waiting for the "right" way to help.  Scared of putting themselves in a bad position.  Frustrated that even though they might donate their time or money, the letters from charities still roll in and nothing seems to be getting better.  I believe that many times life just gets too busy, too hard, or too exhausting to think about going out of our way to do good.
Well after Friday, I am convinced.  It is no longer enough to wait for opportunities to do good.  It is no longer acceptable to wait until someone asks you for help.  We need to seek out opportunities to be good people.  We need to work harder at being a force for good in the world.  There is a quote on Pinterest that I love, and it reads, "Be the kind of person that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, 'Damn, she's up.'"
We need to be actively looking for ways to help, beyond donating money to a couple of good causes or anytime that an old British rock band decides to put on a telethon.  Invite someone over for dinner, and not just the smooth bachelor with great stories and good wine, but the recovering alcoholic who is still looking for a job.  No one has ever died from awkward breaks in conversation.  Offer to babysit for the new mom and pay for her to get a pedicure.  Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in Wawa.  Hold the door for the man with the stroller.  Actually look at the cashier and ask how his day is going, instead of just acting like he doesn't exist.  Let people merge on the highway.  Stop acting like you're in such a damn hurry.  Look people in the eye and smile at them.  Talk to your family members.  If you know people with mental illnesses, insist that they get help instead of just believing that they are someone else's problem.  Go through your drawers and realize that even though you love them all, you don't actually need 50 t-shirts and can afford to give some to Goodwill.  Compliment a stranger.  Put some grocery store gift cards in a neighbors mailbox who you know is struggling.  Keep it anonymous.
You might think you don't know anyone who is struggling, but if you pay attention and open your eyes, you'll see opportunities to help.  You'll see ways to do good.
Will it keep people from doing evil?  No, probably not.  But hopefully it will make it so giving a homeless person clothes is no big deal, that rescuing animals in need is a given, and that the acts that restore our faith in humanity are so high in number that we will never be able to track them in a list anymore.  I will do my best to do the same.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Spin Class That Wasn't

I knew getting to the gym from work by 6:00 p.m. would be a stretch, so when I made it in the doors by 6:05 p.m. with athletic attire and both sneakers on, I considered that a victory.  After four months of really only running for marathon training (I know you’re supposed to cross train, but when you’re doing that kind of mileage, trying not to get injured, and working long hours, who has the time?)  I have been more than excited to get back into other kinds of workouts… Barre, Weights, Crossfit, Zumba,… pretty much anything that doesn’t involve a treadmill.  Last night I figured a spinning class might be a great way to mix it up.
I have never done spin before.  I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve always been a little intimidated and somehow the timing never worked out.  That said, I’ve been a gym member since I was 14 and have used a stationary bike plenty of times, so even though the classroom was dark, the music was blaring, and the instructor was already spinning her little heart out, I thought I could slip in the back and figure things out as I went along.

I tiptoed my way to a bike, adjusted the seat (that alone took 2 minutes and I’m still pretty sure it still wasn’t right) and started pedaling.  I realized pretty quickly that my bike only had clips, not pedals and for some reason when my foot slipped off the pedals kept right on going.  And going.  And going.  They were spinning faster than a cassette tape on rewind.  (Remember them?  Funny.)  I figured they would stop eventually, but they didn’t.  I couldn’t figure out whether they were secretly controlled by the instructor.  I tried turning my bike off, but that didn’t work either.  After trying to stop the pedals with my feet and scraping up the back of my leg in the process, I gracefully totally awkwardly hobbled to the bike next to me, which appeared to have pedals.  I didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of adjusting the seat again, so I just got on and started pedaling only to realize that this bike only had one pedal and wouldn’t turn on.  It was like the Land of Misfit Bikes.  I pedaled away with no resistance for a couple minutes before realizing that my arms were really hurting, and since I wasn’t using them at all, that probably meant that my bike wasn’t adjusted properly and since the bike wouldn’t turn on I wasn’t really doing anything except potentially hurting myself.  With that I snuck off the bike and tried to make the fastest, quietest exit possible.

Unfortunately, a friendly gym employee was standing outside the door and wanted to know if I left the class because I didn’t like the instructor.  When I explained what happened he laughed at me, then scolded me and told me that going into a spin class after it had started for my first class was, “Borderline reckless.”  He also told me that there was an intro to spin class at 5:45 p.m. (of course, if I can’t make it for a 6 p.m. class, I don’t know how I would make it for a 5:45.) 

Thus ends the story of the spin class that I failed miserably.