You will not find me in many photos. I’m just not into pictures. Coming up, it was an easy thing to accomplish. Someone needed to be holding the camera. If it was me volunteering to take the picture, I was rarely in them.
Fast forward to today in the U.S. Of A. Hunger persists. Literacy remains a problem and North Korea is threatening to blow a new whole in the earth’s crust, but it was Ellen Degeneres who made news when she set the record for the most re-tweeted picture when she gathered a crew of average Joe’s in one of the most famous selfies of all. It wasn’t until 2-years later when Leonardo DeCaprio eclipsed her feat by setting his own ‘most tweeted picture’ record in the course of ‘finally’ winning his own Oscar for ‘Best Actor’.
Selfies. I can take a picture of myself anytime I want. Tempted to slip into a tirade about self-inflicted narcissism, the more I thought about, the more I began to see this wasn’t beauty being skin deep. There was something deeper going on here.
“I” being the center of the universe isn’t anything new. Back in 1609, Galileo used his telescope to challenge the prevailing idea of the Sun orbiting the Earth. But ‘luckily’, science lost to popular belief when in 1633, Galileo was forced to recant such heresy or face excommunication and eternal damnation. But in defense of Galileo and in an embarrassing twist of fact over fiction, the Vatican did later admit to being wrong about the whole affair. The year? 2014
Ironically, it was 2014 when a National Science Foundation survey found 1 in 4 Americans believing the Sun did, in fact, orbit the Earth.
But before you explode in a tirade on the failure of public education in these United States, you should also know the same survey found 68% of Europeans thinking that yes, the Earth was the one being circled by the Sun, not the other way around. How’s that for a selfie we can be proud of, eh?
Selfies…us centered. As technology of the handheld phone has exploded, it’s become so easy to take our own photo. But it wasn’t long before we were sad again. Our arms only reach out so far. What are we to do in our quest to be the center of a larger orbit?
That’s right. Selfies on a stick…a bigger picture. Huzzah! Now being the center of even a bigger picture is as easy as clamping your phone on a stick, telling everyone to say ‘cheese’ and pushing the button. It’s us and so much more. All is once again right with the world.
Here’s where I took an unforeseen detour.
Meditating in the morning may be the best selfie of all. It is me, thinking my thoughts in a moment of time that is uniquely mine. These are the selfie moments when I ponder why I want to smoke more, not less – and what I do with that reality. I thought my career was slowing droning on, dying in one direction as I looked at what I’ll be doing between now and when I retire – at 70.
But it was a selfie moment that suddenly presented a different path. As I breathed in through my nose, held it and then, exhaled through my mouth, I realized I was at an intersection in my Life. I unexpectedly found myself in a place where I could take the wheel and go in a new direction. And I am. It wasn’t until I put myself in the center of my own picture I knew the ripple effect was going to touch so much more than just me. Others were going to benefit too. Sold.
My new realization isn’t new. I’ve had similar thoughts for years throughout my career. But up until now, I had always fooled myself into thinking I didn’t have the time or I already had what I needed. I didn’t need to go there. “Fine on my own, thank you.”
That’s the other thing about selfies. We put ourselves in the center, but they aren’t about us. They’re all about where we fit. That’s why we use sticks. We crave to know the bigger picture. Is this all there is? What’s out there and what is our part in it?
I’ve had contact with ‘pen pals’ around the world who are gob-smacked at what they see in the circus of American politics. Other nations are scared at what they call the clown car of American politics. “Dan, what is going on with you people?” Wow. “We, The People…’ are increasingly being viewed in recent months as ‘you people‘. Mob hatred is not winning us any favors at home or abroad.
The natural kingdom knows it too. In Sri Lanka, Hanuman Langur monkeys, spotted deer and peacocks all live on the same island and do their own thing. But in the process of working out their own places in the shared ecosystem, they have forged a unique alliance. Each species, with their own point-of-view, participates in warning the whole neighborhood when the leopard, their apex predator, is on the prowl. By listening to what the others are saying, they all live.
Back here in the United States, the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution vouches for the freedom of speech. I believe the ultimate selfie was taken long ago when the idea of one man person, one vote took root. Sure. The whole idea of self-determination ticked off King George and a whole host of despots before and since. But democracy was not envisioned to be neat and tidy. It is noisy, raucous and filled with dynamic tensions…by design.
Our history is filled with painful lessons learned when we ignored the unalienable Truth that we were all created equal. No matter what our gender, color or creed, we shine when we look beyond ourselves and find a collective solution instead of punching each other in the aisles. Like the selfie, we’re at our best when we stick together.
Growing up, I remember tormenting my younger sister in a most unrelenting and merciless way. That is until the moment when someone outside the family took a swing. Then all else faded. What sticks is Self. Start from there. Love yourself in the quiet. It makes it more likely you’ll love somebody else when things get noisy. So to paraphrase Paul Revere, “One if by Self. Two if by Love.”
Revolutionary, ain’t it?
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
Group Photo by Singyin Lee: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/great-ideas-for-group-photography/; Ellen and Leonardo: http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20985752_20990807,00.html; Ellens Selfie 2014 Oscar Awards: http://coed.com/2014/03/03/ellens-oscar-selfie-liza-minnelli-really-wanted-to-be-in-it-photos/; Galileo – READ MORE ABOUT HIS: http://solar-center.stanford.edu/galileo/ and http://www.onthisday.com/people/galileo-galilei; 1 in 4 Americans: http://time.com/7809/1-in-4-americans-thinks-sun-orbits-earth/; The World will not be destroyed – A Einstein (SOURCE): http://dustin4life.blogspot.com/2012/08/dont-buy-lie.html; Hanuman – Gray Langur, Sacred Monkey: http://www.factzoo.com/mammals/hanuman-gray-langur-sacred-monkey.html; Trump gets attacked by ameican eagle (SOURCE): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bald-eagle-shows-trump-whos-boss_us_566881a3e4b0f290e5219f3c
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