Sunday, April 06, 2014

What would I change?

I'm taking an "Intro to Civic Engagement" course this term and had to write a reflective essay about picking one thing to change in our lives, and how we would go about implementing the change. I don't know the teacher yet so I don't know if she'll really enjoy my essay, or feel that I completely missed the mark. In any event, I've posted it below because I enjoyed writing it and thinking about this. 

This picture has nothing to do with my essay. I just thought it was funny!
What a gigantic challenge it is to think of only one thing in my life that I would want to change. Especially when there are no parameters around how big or far reaching of a change. It’s hard to narrow it down; off the top of my head I can think of like 50 things I’d like to change. I’d like for people to not be hungry or obese—balance out the food inequities that are everywhere! I’d also like to make sure that everyone has a safe place to live, or that people who want to go to school have the opportunity to go regardless of ability to afford it. I’d like to change that there are child soldiers in other nations and genocide in Africa. I’d like to eradicate Monsanto and maybe even toss out the whole processed-food thing that’s slowly mutating the human race over time. When given the power to change one thing, my mind is instantly a Technicolor explosion of fragmented and some slightly selfish desires.

One thing that has been bothering me lately is the amount of people I see in traffic who go through red lights. I don’t mean yellow-just-turned-red red, I mean the light has been red for at least a full moment and the other side has a solid green. I’ve also witnessed accidents and have had loved ones victims of accidents where someone sped through a red light. It’s scary and awful, and usually the person who caused the accident is genuinely sorry.

Having said that, I think it’d be great to make a change so people could never run red lights again. I know that sounds like a really trivial thing to change, but the amount of people who blow through red lights is incredibly alarming. If drivers were forced to stop for lights, this action would probably save a lot of lives and reduce a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. But I have no idea how I’d go about initiating this change and now that I’m really reflecting on this, I don’t think it’s even the best one to pick. The problem with people going through red lights is it is actually a symptom of a much deeper issue; it’s a lack of self-awareness. The people who speed and drive through the red lights are doing so because they don’t want to wait at the intersection for 2 minutes while the traffic signal cycles through. This impatience isn’t just evident when we are commuting, it’s also found all over: in stores while grocery shopping, on phone calls with services trying to fulfill customer service needs, at the airport gate boarding or deboarding, and in many other aspects of our lives.

Circling back to the initial essay topic of “changing one thing,” I think after all of my preceding reflection I would like to change the world, and in a profound, fundamental way. The change I would like to make is to give every human the capacity for self-awareness. I’d like to start with our nation, the USA. The people that I’ve encountered in my life so far certainly could benefit from a little self-awareness. I feel that I have self-awareness but also am aware I exist in my own bubble sometimes. I know I also can benefit from an increase of self-awareness; I am all for self-improvement and lessons on how to be a better human. I don’t have much experience with people from other places in the world, however if they could benefit from this change I’d like to extend it their way too. I think some of the people responsible for war, senseless abuse and slaughter of people should really be candidates for the self-awareness change. The people who perpetuate and contribute to corporate greed should also be at the front of the line for the self-awareness change.

A change of this magnitude will take time, and change would have to be initiated on an individual level. If people in positions of power and authority demonstrated and modeled self-awareness, they would teach those skills to people who look up to them, especially the people next in line for power and authority. A person is faced with numerous choices every moment of every day; practicing self-awareness helps a person determine which choice s/he wants to make and the impacts it will have. The impacts of choice and interaction—both good and bad—have an effect as if one threw a stone into a calm pond. The ripples would radiate outward, increasing in intensity and spreading out to touch the land surrounding it. I think the real challenge is how to get self-awareness buy-in from people in positions of power. Like everything in life, if you have the right person in the right role, the results will be phenomenal.

I think if more people were self-aware, they would think twice before doing something dangerous, selfish, hurtful, or negatively impactful. People who are self-aware also think about the good and positive things they do, and how making a good choice in a moment can have a positive cascade on their environment. Self-awareness reveals how to support others in more productive ways, and can have a tremendous impact on our collective well-being. Happiness, love, safety, security and positivity are really great things to experience in life.  By exercising self-awareness, one is taking a developmental step towards self-actualization and a more satisfying, peaceful life.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Only an hour and 15 minutes to SLC.

Already this is a much nicer flight. It's quiet, I am in a row of empty seats (yay!) and the views are nice from the window. No screaming kids. (Note to self, look into recommendation of Bose noise canceling headphones). We're flying over the desert now, not like eastern Oregon but a much more uniform, homogenized, nondescript desert. 


Why are planes so goddamn filthy? It's bad enough they smell like BO and that bright antibacterial lavatory scent. My seat, tray table and windows are a crumby, smeary, schmutzy mess. These airlines should really be embarrassed.

From what I've noticed today, I'd have to say that the cabin crew on the flight seem very nice and accommodating. This might be partially due to sharing a close proximity with us cattlepassengers for an unspecified length of time. Ground crew and ticket agents, on the other hand, can all eat a bag of dicks. I have never had to resist such a strong urge to tell people to sit and spin. And those TSA assholes--don't even get me started.

I've had a very eventful day that started about 4:30 this morning. I opted not to bring my laptop and instead bring my iPad. I hope I don't regret that decision. I've brought a myriad of activities to keep me busy throughout my traveling adventure. Right now I'm listening to God Lives Underwater's "Life in the So-Called SpaceAge." I think it is a good album, even if it isn't metal. \m/

I refuse to go to the bathroom on a plane. After one of my brothers confessed that he only urinates in lavatory sinks, I decided that he was admitting something to me that sadly, something that many people will not. On travel days, I limit my fluid intake and hold my pee until I'm doubled over and toxic. Once we touch down, I have no shame and will literally push people aside to get to terminal bathroom. 

I'm on my way to New Orleans, or "Nawahlans" as many people have corrected me. I started this journey in Portland on a plane that was supposed to leave at 7. We were delayed until 8:45 by a "strike plate" issue. Thanks to the magic of google, I learned that the strike plate keeps the cabin door secure while in flight. Sooo yeah, kind of important. The ground crew gave us vague updates and unrealistic delay times, and mentioned on several occasions that the paperwork was the hold up and the strike plate was a non-issue. Does non-issue mean they fixed it?? I'm hearing these intercom updates and beginning to think that I will be cutting my connection very close. When we finally boarded, the ground staff insisted that I check my carry on due to "a lack of space." I explain I have a tight connection and prefer to have it with me. They explain that I can't take it on and sincerely lied that it would be quick and no problem to retrieve at LAX. 

The flight finally takes off and my seat is encircled by screaming, unhappy, bored little kids with loud, repetitive and noisy toys. Fuck me! I tried to sleep through the world's longest 2-hour flight. After we touch down, an interesting dilemma unfolded: my connecting flight, which was due to take off in 14 minutes, was parked at the gate where our plane needed to park. To add insult to injury, the captain came over the speakers and announced that we had to wait about 25 minutes on the Tarmac before we could deplane. I frantically called Delta customer service for my seat and proceeded to lay out my whole situation. 

It turns out they rebooked me--onto a third connecting flight. I would have never known if I didn't email, no voicemail, just a big travel mystery. So this new connection also has a narrow window to get from gate A to gate B. I charge out to grab my checked carry on and what do you know, it's not anywhere to be seen. A couple of bitchy ticket agents snarkily told me that I needed to be patient when I attempted to explain my urgency. Me and a pile of other people who were on my flight watched a lackadaisical ground crew bring the carry-on bags to where we were one at a time. Oh how hard it was to fight the urge to help them speed things along! After an eternity, I grabbed my bag and booked it to...aargh! I don't know where I'm going! I'm in airport hell!

I emerge from the gate into a bright, unfamiliar airport. I have only visited LAX a handful of times and was pretty sure I'd never been in this terminal. I ask a few Delta staff where my next gate was and after 3 conflicting answers, I made it to my gate just I time. I swear, it was like a scene out of a movie, I literally ran down the thruway and as the flight attendants were in mid-shut, they saw me and opened the door back up to let me in. 

The flight to Salt Lake City was pretty good for the most part. Towards the end we encountered some wicked turbulence and I almost lost my cookies. I'm on the ground now, killing time before my *third* flight down to New Orleans. I wish I could have skipped PDX to LAX and just came straight to SLC to pick up a connection to NOLA.