Monday, January 30, 2012

In sane...America that is, not Egypt this time



It's been quite the mental firecracker show since my arrival home in December, and the idea of collecting my thoughts to write has been, well, umm....not intriguing. At least not for me. I have actually tried to take a break from thinking all together. But, that hasn't really worked. Aside from the internal struggles of processing the move back, it has been "interesting" to try and readjust to America...and all its "efficiencies." American culture is   crazier than the Egyptian life I lived amongst for two years. Not that I am slamming my home country or Egypt, but we are psycho here in the land of the "free", not that Egypt didn't have it's own craaaazy, it did. But I have one question for us Americans, "Can't we just stop?" Apparently not.

If we aren't:

Obsessing over our figures, aging process, or health... 

Then we are: 
Running our children around to their overload of social activities...
Ordering and training ourselves how to use the newest technological gadget...
Researching the best organic products...
Scheduling in our long runs for these half marathons...
Signing up for classes for our newest hobby...
Making plans to watch the "Big game" as if it's a matter of life and death (news flash, it's not)...
Squeezing in our work outs to stay fit...
Ordering the newest self help book for our Kindle...
Spending waaay too much money on our child's birthday party to  prove something to ourselves and our friends...
Paying four bucks for a cup of coffee to keep up and stay awake for our fast paced schedules (soy milk and natural products only of course cause we are so high strung about health)...
Trying to find time to watch our Tevo shows from the week...
Checking off our bucket list items so we feel "accomplished and cultured"...
Signing up for this and that, to be well rounded in the community...
Running to the sale at the mall to get the new boots we found a coupon for...
Micromanaging our kid's teachers (again)...
Trying to meet and befriend as many people in our church to appear friendly and social...
Bragging about how we are all "organic" now even making our own soap and using the safest water bottles or baby products...

All while trying to appear relaxed, well adjusted, and natural at being this way...

we are killing ourselves, and our relationships.

Yet, in the process, we are spending way too much cash on stuff just cause we think it's "necessary"....which stresses us out, effecting our marriages, our relationships, our debts, our waistlines, and our mental capacity to live life freely. We can't decide where to focus our time, because we are overloaded with all that is going on, and can't settle down long enough to choose what to give up, in fear of what we would lose, or how our reputations would change if we did.

It's like the longest we find ourselves standing still, is when we are stuck in an aisle at the grocery store because we can't decide between all the options of coffee creamer...plain? sweet? creamy? powder? sugar free? fat free? all natural?...Ugh. Is it really that big of a deal? We seem to think to so.

We are sleep deprived, coffee addicted,  self help, organic junkies, who have lost sense of what our life was created to be about. It was a scary reality to face, and I am terrified of getting sucked back into it, if I haven't already...I am sure I have.

So we schedule these "nights out"  to relax with our friends or spouses as if we have earned it from being "so busy at life". Don't you think that spending time relaxing is a more valuable use of our  time than the busy? We choose pyscho busy because we can't (or won't) say no. Plus, we think we are feeding our images by keeping up with what society offers...and this makes us feel good. But does it really?

So I know what you're thinking, "Christy, this problem has been identified before...it's not news to us." Exactly. 

In order to be "efficient" to solve it best, we have put ourselves in an intense cycle of trying to save time, to accommodate our lifestyles of overload, so we now make everything about efficiency and ease. I was literally blown away at how much we push this theme in every area of business and marketing...and how we Americans fall for it...still. Yet somehow, we still manage to combine this theme with convincing consumers they need the latest product, whether it is for the purpose of efficiency or just plain luxury. We have fallen captive to both. We are just never satisfied, are we? Always a goal to achieve...but just what exactly are we trying to prove? And to whom? 

It is as if having a goal and working towards it, makes us feel better about who we are. We are obsessed with the rush we get from accomplishing our goal...and then, it's on to the next one. Security issues? Undoubtedly. 

Our obsession with feeling accomplished can even come in the form of our hunger for constant upgrades. Sitting in any public space, my eyes immediately go to counting how many people can't seem to sit still and just relax. The moment they are alone, out comes the smart phone, and they start clicking away, or the kindle, or the the laptop...an obsession with being connected or needing to do something. I have to be careful of this too, because I am one who falls into this very same trap. Airports are the best place for people watching, but if we notice, people aren't watching people anymore because there isn't anything to watch...we are too glued to our screens to produce any fun entertainment to those around us.

Honestly, I am concerned for the little ones in our society today who are observing all this as "normal", and don't know anything to be different...or better. Plus, the child worship factor taking over our homes is just plain terrifying. Parents who find their identity in their kids are around every corner, and guess who ends up cleaning up the messes created by that? The teachers. Why? When you have a class of twenty kids who all think the world is about serving them, you tend to run into some issues. But teachers can't go telling parents anything negative about their children...it's not like teachers know anything about the kids they spend 7 hrs a day with. :)  Actually, they do.

In many cases, teachers spend more hours per week with their students than the parents do. It doesn't take long for them to learn details about each students' habits and personalities, but many parents won't stop long enough to listen to the insight of these professionals...they are too busy telling the teachers how to do their jobs, and how their child was "misunderstood."  Once again, gag. Whatever happened to disciplining our kids?...not threatening discipline, but actual follow through? 

Schools aren't allowed to fail kids (yes I am serious), put them in time out, or really hold them accountable at all. I bet teachers would shock the American society if they were allowed to share what kids are legally allowed to get away with in today's schools, but no one will slow down long enough to listen to today's educators. Teachers are trying to balance the job of raising and training the children who come from the homes of parents too busy to do it themselves, yet not step on the toes of the over protective parents who don't want to admit that teachers have any sort of real influence on their child. It's an impossible battle.

A lot of the child worship comes out of the guilt parents face based on their divorces, bad marriages, lack of time with their kids, or not "providing" the wants of the child, or whatever area society is telling them they fall short in.  In their efforts to "make up" these deficiencies, they end up creating an entitlement sense in their child, which we, the rest of society gets to enjoy in their selfish, self obsessed little person.

When people ask me what it is like being back in America, I get this mental image of someone sitting on an exercise bike...spinning their wheels...yet not really living. There isn't time to live...we are too busy trying to figure out the most efficient way to do it.