Did You Just Cancel Yourself?

When we lack compassion for ourselves, we are dismissing and cancelling our very experience.

The 21st century has brought us a world of “cancel culture” where one wrong phrase or action could land you on a figurative island of ostracism. Cancel culture is “political correctness on steroids.” American culture has morphed from a gentle parent to mind one’s manners to a shame-inducing zealot of morality. And no one is immune from getting “cancelled.” Heck, as I’m writing this now, there’s a good chance that someone is silently seething in their seat from these words on their screen.

When did we get so sensitive? When did we go from speaking up to shaming? When did we go from making a mistake to paying for it for the rest of our lives?

There’s an old Twilight Zone episode that comes to mind: Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. We often hear, “history repeats itself,” and the 1960’s sci-fi episode is proof of this aphorism. Without giving the episode away, the story involves neighbors in a “quiet, suburban town” who suddenly lose electricity, sans explanation. When one neighbor’s car starts on its own, the other neighbors begin “canceling” him. Before long, with other lights in the neighborhood going on and off sporadically, neighbors begin to turn on neighbors. The late and great Serling was using sci-fi as a vehicle to highlight the onslaught of fear of communism.

Fear itself is the all terrain great vehicle for cancel culture: the unspoken “what if” that is temporarily flattened when attacking another. It’s temporary because, again, the next person to be canceled could be you.

However, there’s another side of cancel culture that goes unaddressed: canceling ourselves. Rejecting what we think and how we feel. The other day, I spoke with a friend who was upset with something her fiancé did. 

“Do you think I have a right to be upset?”

Wow. It doesn’t matter what her fiancé did or didn’t do; what stood out to me was her unconscious decision to question her very emotion. She went on:

“I think I’m just going to stay quiet. Things are good between us. I don’t want to upset that.”

Double wow. Instead of allowing herself to feel the negative emotion—not bathe in it, mind you—just feel it, she shoved it down, away—no different than the way we cancel culture each other. There’s a famous quote by Rumi that comes to mind:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

The field, I believe Rumi was referring to, is Compassion. When we have compassion for ourselves and others, we are able to make mistakes and learn from them. We are able to grow and forgive ourselves and others. We are able to see that we are all in this life together and canceling one of us is canceling all of us.

Source: Author D. Eric Schansberg https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2021/03/29/cancel-culture-america-political-correctness/6991235002/

Thank You, Matt Haig!

Enter Haig’s Midnight Library: A world where you get to make different choices that affect the trajectory of your life.

There is nothing like living on the brink of World War III on the heels of a pandemic to cause one to wax reflective, if not, downright depressed. Take your pick of observations: the murder of George Floyd, the deaths of civilians, police officers, and a veteran both at and due to the January 6, 2021 capitol riots; as of the writing of this post, 115 children have died as a direct result of the Russia-Ukraine War. 

Since March 2020, whether we were masking up or hoping that our Amazon order didn’t get taken by porch pirates; whether we were worried we would never see Lysol Disinfectant wipes ever again or contact tracing with dread after learning a friend at a recent dinner party tested positive for Omicron, life on Earth has often felt like an apocalyptic Twilight Zone episode we can’t Rod Serling our way out of.

Enter the ingenious writer: Matt Haig and his new book, The Midnight Library. This is the kind of book that reminds us: even the most ordinary of lives has the ability to experience an extraordinary life. It’s the butterfly effect on steroids. No spoilers here, but Haig’s protagonist, painfully depressed in a way humanity can empathize with now, discovers the profound life changes brought about by the most minute of alterations. 

Again, no spoilers but Haig’s writing is food for the soul, nourishing our hearts with the poignant reminder that what we do matters. Like us, the protagonist and her family are fallible and contend with their own Achilles heels. Like life, this story pulls every emotion from our funny bone to our heartstrings. Haig is both therapist and entertainer with his words; through the insights of the main character, we understand ourselves more.

One of the quotes in Haig’s book is from the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre:

“Life begins on the other side of despair.”

The Midnight Library has the potential to resuscitate the heart of the heartbroken. It is as complex as it is simple, like humanity itself. 

Mr. Haig, thank you for the invaluable reminder that regardless of what is occurring externally in our topsy-turvy world, each of us has the power to choose a different thought, word, or action; by extension, each of us has the power to create and experience delicious possibility. 

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/russiaukraine-war-115-children-killed-140-injured-so-far-says-report-101647775243391.html

Source : https://www.americanscientist.org/article/understanding-the-butterfly-effect

Source : https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Library-Novel-Matt-Haig/dp/0525559477/ref=sr_1_1?crid=ZLREKKEQC2OR&keywords=the+midnight+library&qid=1648005044&sprefix=the+midnight+library%2Caps%2C130&sr=8-1