I’m sorry Alexander, but that is a load of…crap. I mean it’s true. But it’s horrible. It’s no way to do life and thrive and feel alive. And since I know that Alexander Pope was one of the best satirical poets of the eighteenth century, I’ve got to surmise that this is more satire.
Seriously. No one should live with zero expectation.
And yet I did.
In fact the modern-day twist would look something like this: “Just say ‘fine’ or ‘whatever’ – pretend it doesn’t matter and before long it won’t.”
ALL OF IT
Call it what you will but at some point in everyone’s life we respond to certain circumstances with these reactions. Usually because we are beat down and just tired of caring. That “caring” starts eating away at us like a battery acid. Slowly corroding away. Leaving us raw. Vulnerable.
Stopping the battery acid…that’s where apathy comes in. Apathy is soothing.
And trust me, there is a time and place for apathy. Sometimes we need it in a moment of persecution. It’s a way to endure trauma, hardship. It’s used by bullied kids—they might attempt to act like the horrific treatment, the meanness and rudeness and outright cruelty doesn’t bother them.
But… there is a problem. One circumstance of apathy is like a brick. Placed at the base of a heart. Your heart. And that’s okay. Mostly. But when issues aren’t dealt with they are like adding another brick. Then another, and another, until the brick wall around your heart is a fortress. Nothing can get in.
And here’s the issue, you might have built that wall surrounding one issue, but that wall prevents a lot of stuff from getting in. In fact in the worst of cases, NOTHING gets in.
I see this in teens. Angsty apathy breaks my heart. Because I know there is something that started the Wall of China. And taking the bricks down is hard work—especially when the mortar is hard and set. And even harder to take down when a wall inside a wall inside a wall is erected.
And it’s not just teens, its adults too.
My smart friend said apathy is like a comfy old sweatshirt. I agree, but with this added twist. What I know is that those comfy old sweatshirts that we slum around the house in are not the type of clothes we wear in public (at least we usually don’t). And truth, in the house, where we wear that tattered smelly stained comfy sweatshirt, is also where we tend display our apathy in full force.
Conversations are short. Shallow. Families, kids, parents, spouses stop trying. We treat strangers with more heart than those in the home of the comfy sweatshirt. We show kindnesses to friends, but those whom we live with get sloppy seconds—or none at all.
And here’s more truth, re-engaging—finding your way out of apathy is a risk. An absolute risk. Because it makes you vulnerable. It means taking down the bricks and exposing a tender and fragile heart.
Why? Because I also took down a Wall of China myself. I built it to protect me from years of hardship and heartache. And the taking down is not easy. But know this, it.is.worth.it.
Every exposed nerve and fiber and bit of tender flesh is worth it. Because feeling alive in every part of your life leaves you whole. Integrated. Full.
Wholehearted (not half-hearted).
So how? Well for everyone it’s a little different but it starts with your action. Your action of taking down the first brick. And then the next. It is a forced action. And usually it’s painful because there is little motivation or inspiration to do so. You simply have to trust that, that wall, coming down, is the right thing to do.
And in the process if you need to create boundaries while the wall is coming down. DO IT!
Boundaries are like chain link fences in which you hold the gate key. Things can still get in out and of a chain-link fence. There are holes. You can get air. But for someone to truly touch the tenderness of your heart—that requires you letting them through the gate. So make good boundaries when taking down bricks. Oh and that wall, the Wall of China, there is NO air coming or going, no deciding what comes in and out. It’s stagnant. It’s apathy at it’s worse.
So take down bricks by sheer force and put up one of those caution-construction-zone-fences as a protective boundary.
So friend. If you think you might have one of these walls, or a portion of a wall built of apathy bricks, then ponder these thoughts:
- What was the reoccurring circumstance that built the wall, or portion thereof?
- When did the first brick go up, how long has it been like this?
- Are you still adding bricks, aka: is it still happening?
- Is the wall negatively effecting other parts of your life? (think before you answer—if you’re honest, chances are the answer is yes)?
- Are you ready to do something about it, to become whole and wholehearted again?
- Do you need help, perspective? Who can you trust to help?
Beautiful soul, be whole, be wholehearted. If I can do it, so can you.
Those soiled wings, yours, they can still be used for flight you know.