In a recent attempt to inspire others to get creative whilst driving, Phil Shaltz put up a huge billboard in Michigan saying “I’m concerned about the blueberries”. Now, while it was true that there was no real “hidden” drama behind it all, it had more to do with a recent experience on his last trip to Alaska in which a young man showed a very deep concern for the blueberry crop of that year. Specifically, the fact that there wasn’t going to be enough rain to provide this wonderfully vitamin and antioxidant (and a lot of other good things) packed small fruit to the United States.
The very wealthy Shaltz wondered how this could be a genuine concern… he didn’t have bills to pay, kids to feed, a wife to fend off on certain days of the month and the adult commitments one comes to as soon as we cross that threshold of responsibilities that come with a day job.
He then concluded to see this as a way of relating to other people’s blueberries (which actually means everyday hurdles or dilemmas). We have grown to be insensitive to the worrisome reality that affects us most; mostly because sometimes my friend’s “blueberries” are really nothing compared to my “huge watermelon”. So, the empathy seems to be following the rain (following the story here). It’s elsewhere. It’s just too DAMN hard to be empathic when we have too much on our plate to handle or our whatever is on our plate seems to consume most of our energy if not all of it.
I’ve been mesmerized at what I have been able to learn from close relatives. After a while, if I manage to stay quiet long enough, I’ll be able to hear their very own blueberries and it will too allow me to drift away from my own. I sit, I listen, I ask and I join them in the hopefullness that there will in fact be rain some day. That there will be a solution to their problem. And sometimes, just listening in is helpful enough.
However, on a day to day basis there seems to be a social policy that our solidarity is conditioned to the approval from our social media accounts and whatever goes on in our own lives. We forget to include the people closest to us. We tend to forget that people have their own hurdles. And we tend to forget that life always seems to go lighter when we share the burden with somebody else.