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StreetLights On A SaturdayNight: Entropy And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Entropy and the Pursuit of Happiness

1230pm. March 18, 2019

Under the clouds it looks like 830pm. Gray. Storm’s rollin’ in. Behind the wheel again. Feels good. Haven’t driven since before the stent went in. Just a short trip. Just down the road. It’s nice to be on the move again.

I can’t recall precisely when the word entropy entered my brain, but being back in the hospital had me thinking about it more. I am feeling extremely mortal, worn. I have been thinking about its meaning for several days now.

Entropy is a scientific term. There are a few ways to use the word in a scientific context, but one way to define entropy in layman’s terms is this: It is the tendency for energy to spread out. It is the idea that everything in the universe decays as energy is used or transferred. We are part of that process. We enter this world and grow into adults and then old age; all part of a process that offers less and less ordered energy until we die and become dust. All the while, entropy increasing until all in the universe is nothing. Oh yeah, so one of the scientific laws of energy, of entropy is that it is irreversible. Meaning, entropy is ever increasing.

For example, an egg is boiled. That energy is converted and gone through heat. But we can’t unboil the egg. The theory is that everything in the universe eventually transfers its energy to the great collective until there is no difference in energy anywhere and therefore nothing. For the record, that’s a long way off. So don’t worry about the planet disintegrating while you are on the morning commute.

The term was invented by a German physicist named Rudolf Clausius in 1850 to describe the amount of heat that must be put into a closed system (an engine) to bring it to a given state. This was during the industrial age. Our internal engines aren’t any different. Over a period of time, they decay, become less efficient. I don’t want to die. But I know I am mortal. And so far as I can tell, no one has figured out how to stop it.

We waste so much of our limited time as ordered energy (human beings) thinking about the past or the future. We waste so much time lamenting the insignificant. From the moment we arrive we are slowly using up our life energy and slowly unravelling. Disease may take us down. Like Clausius and his engine, we occasionally get a replacement part or we just add some hardware, like a stent, or dentures. These modifications may improve our ability to function, but entropy never stops. We continue to transfer our life energy back to the collective, bit by bit, until we are dust.

But this mortality becomes precious. If we were immortal, would we find joy? Knowing we have a limited time makes each moment count. Or at least it should.

Because we believe in more than just scientific theory. Because life is beautiful. Because our essence is to live. This time, this tiny portion of infinite time is important. We, our bodies, our engines, begin to decline from the moment we are born.

This year brings us a number of reminders that nothing on this earth lasts forever. We watched in sorrow as an iconic and beautiful cathedral fell, consumed by fire. But, if you bothered to notice, no one has expressed a loss of faith in God. Entropy, decay, death are all things we can’t escape. Neither can a beautiful structure, even if made with loving hands of a faithful people.

As we get older and closer to that moment when our life energy is scattered back into the collective universe, we often begin to feel less useful, without purpose. We often ask why, when we see a friend or colleague reduced to confusion and unable to care for himself because that well-ordered energy is scattering and the commands of the mind no longer hold sway over the action of the body. Entropy. I can tell you from personal experience that health issues which come earlier than one would expect in life do cause some anguish, anxiety, and depression.

On the other hand, much of what I feel I have to offer in service of God and humanity comes from the struggle, not the easy parts of life. When we teach our children, do we not use all of our personal experiences, both good and bad as a guide to help them grow and live to find hope, peace, love, and joy?

Scientifically, we understand entropy in a measurable dynamic. Philosophically, this becomes more intangible. I am a firm believer that science and God are not exclusive or contradictory to one another. But this slow unraveling, this entropy, is absolutely designed by God. It gives us time. Not eternity, but time. It allows us to struggle so that we may know the beauty of life. Entropy, thus gives us consequential action and thought, free will.

“Another interesting aspect of entropy is that it makes the process of becoming, gradual and rather controlled. If entropy had different nature, the universe might be too unbalanced or violent to sustain life: without the energy transmutating gradually into heat, life and death would become abruptly polar events.”

Now this last little part is a quote from an anonymous nihilist who is also quoted above, mixed with my own core belief in God. So I am not using quotation marks. But a portion of it is not my own. I just swapped out a few words here and there for my personal cosmos cooking.

This life may be burdened with death and suffering in struggle, but without it there wouldn’t be anything to live or dream for. As Nietzsche put it, “it is only up to us to overcome this, what we call the tragedy of mortal life, and re-write our roles in the cosmic play. While the invisible strings of statistics will always be pulling our actions in the large scale, it can never put the lines in our mouths. That we must do ourselves.”

God doesn’t take away people we love. God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. And, I might add, there are always people worse off than us. God gives us free will and a limited amount of time to use that will. Let us not waste that time. Let us instead, since we are all in this life together, use our will, our strengths, and even our weaknesses for the betterment of humanity. That is the way to life everlasting. That is God’s will. And, that is the only true antithesis to entropy.

See? Science and religion fusion. Boom.

“Life is the noble process which turns suffering into excellence.”

We cannot forsake grief. Instead we must embrace it and allow it to remind us we are alive.

“You should know compared to people on a global scale our kind has had it relatively easy. And here with you there’s always something to look forward to. Our angry heart beats relatively easy.” Jason Isbell

#Kindness #StreetLights #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #joy #love #TheKindnessClub #Grace #StreetLightsonaSaturdayNight #weareallconnected

Rocket Man

Slightly updated this memory from 2018 for relevance to our current conditions.

April 13, 2020

The pandemic which has changed our world is not nearly done. As we brace for what is next, many of us do so alone. Depression must also be a condition/symptom/consequence of Covid-19. For my own experience, driving Uber and Lyft, meeting people and listening to the many incredible life stories has always been my therapy for counteracting my depression. At least, it has been a big part of my anti-depressant toolbox.

I have found a silver lining to this virus. I have been home with my family, at least most of my family. My days have been spent connecting with my wife and kids, reaching out to friends and family, and lots of yardwork. And I have been loving every single minute of it. I thought being taken off the road would be a challenge for my chronic depression, but I was wrong. I have found more joy and less stress during the last month than I ever remember.

But, the fact that so many people out there are dealing with loneliness and isolation, that fact is not lost on me. So I say to each of you, especially to my depressive brothers and sisters, I love you. You are not alone.

For folks who do not understand depression, please hear me! When depression sets in, it is like a fog. It is cold and confusing. It isn’t enough to say, call me. Depression often takes away the ability for someone to reach out for help. So we must be proactive. We must all be light. We must be kindness warriors and spread love in the time of Covid-19.

I see this in action. I see heroes rising. I see angels in email. I hear the beauty and love shared in song, on Facebook, ZOOM, WebEx, drive-by celebrations.

Love and kindness from 6 feet or through a camera lens will defeat this pandemic. So, keep checking up on each other. Keep the conversation going. A simple call or letter, or email, text, etc. might just save a life. Don’t be afraid. God is with us, always.

April 13, 2018

For the journey…

I get behind the wheel, engine start, all systems check. Flip on the app, and away I go. I am now far away. Halfway to Mars.

“I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight
And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone”

Its always been my favorite Elton John song. I think I understand why, now. It’s day 129 since I hit rock bottom with depression. The climb is still wrought with danger, emotion, and self deception, self destruction. It’s lonely out in space.

But, I’m a Rocket Man.

StreetLights

Make it count. We are all connected. Let your loved ones know you love them. Spend as much time with them as you can. In this time of Covid-19, be purposefully kind. Be extraordinary! Be love.

For the journey…

Streetlights guide our path in the darkness. This blog is about my travels as an Uber/Lyft driver, the incredible people I meet, battles with depression, recovery, and stories of kindness.

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Phoenix

Facebook Memories is a great feature. I am constantly reminded of the many wonderful people I have met and posted about, through Uber and Lyft. Yesterday, that reminder was about a man I met 2 years ago, named Winston.

In 2005, Winston Norton suffered a burst aneurysm of the brain. He was taken to the hospital but was expected to die within 24 hours. The aneurysm caused a severe stroke. When the doctors went in to try and fix the aneurysm, they found over 40 more.

The chance Winston would live was becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, he coded (heart stopped) more than once.

He lived.

Winston had lost much of his body function and control. He couldn’t move half his body. He spent 9 months at Baylor University Medical Center. 9 months!

Winston is a man of faith and determination. You can see the trauma he suffered in his walk, but you couldn’t tell from his outlook on life. He lives to serve now, thanking God for every precious, beautiful day.

He knows God still has a purpose for him so he works everyday to fulfill that purpose. His recovery/survival is nothing short of a miracle.

He believes it is important to tell his story. He and I both agreed we didn’t cross paths by chance.

Winston, rise again my friend, and keep inspiring people through your story and your dedicaton to spreading kindness and love.

Winston’s story got me thinking about the mythical bird, Phoenix. Like the Phoenix, Winston rose from the ashes. That led me to a Dan Fogelberg song of the same name that I listened to often, in my youth. When I listened to it again today, I found a particularly powerful line from this excerpt, “Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
No more living
Someone else’s dreams.”

Someone else’s dreams…

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz describes our lives as dreams. “What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.”

We make many agreements with life, with God, with ourselves. In doing so, we submit to the dreams, or the influence of others, in the way we think, we perceive, we act. We live someone else’s dreams. The Four Agreements teaches us how to break old agreements and make four agreements with ourselves to create our own dream, free of influence from others. In doing so, we are filled with love and peace.

Our lives are like the life of the Phoenix. There are periods, even days when we die and are reborn. As Christians, we attach this life experience to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each day is a renewal. Each day is an opportunity to become a better person, to give and receive love, to enjoy God’s creation and grace. Each day we rise like the Phoenix.

So RISE! Get up, get out, and feel God’s love. Share that love, so that others may find their way out of the dark, out of someone else’s dream.

Thanks for the book recommendation Mindy Lee Carlson.

Happy Easter, my friends. He is risen! Be safe in this extraordinary moment in time. Be love. Be kind.

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Love In The Time Of Covid-19

Love in the time of Covid-19

We have all become familiar with some new terms like shelter-in-place and social distancing. More than that, we are all adjusting to a very different world. There have been moments that feel as if each of us are on our own little space station floating around the earth. My station has artificial gravity, a fridge full of food, comfy bed, and a ton of movies, so it isn’t too bad. I also get to share this space station with my wife and three out of my four kids. I wish the 4th was here too but he is on his own space station. Every once in a while, we venture out in our trusty spacecraft to a large star base to resupply. My mother’s little space station where she is on her own is close by and since she is practicing the same isolation protocols as we are, we can still travel to and from her place.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, there is much suffering and much danger. But there is also something good. There is much love. Love is strong. Love is powerful. And, love is everywhere in this time of Covid-19. As we first began to hear news of this virus and when the first cases were reported here in the United States, my initial reaction was anger. That anger consumed me. I am a news junkie anyway, but with this virus, I opened up the information valve all the way. This just intensified my outrage. And, for good reason. However, as I observe others, as I see posts online, and as I feel it here in my home, my little space station, I have become overwhelmed with love.  I see the love we share with others in a time such as this. I see selfless acts of love from every doctor, nurse, EMT, grocery store worker, restaurant employee, and so many other people who continue to work hard making sure we still function as a society and we still take care of people in need.  It is times like this when heroes shall rise.  And they have!

I haven’t driven in almost three weeks. It just became too dangerous. I miss the personal connections I make with passengers. Driving Uber and Lyft has always been a method of restoring my withered faith in humanity. I am finding new ways to appreciate and renew that faith. In a world of darkness, I see a million points of light. I see people helping people. I see the incredible love and kindness that IS humanity at its finest. And, that give me hope.

We recently lost a bright light, Bill Withers. But really, his light will keep shining for all of us in his music.

Excerpt from New York Times:

“At 17, eager to avoid a coal-mine career himself, Mr. Withers joined the Navy. “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward,” he told Rolling Stone. “So, I went to aircraft-mechanic school.” He spent nine years in the service, some of it stationed in Guam. He quit the Navy in 1965, while stationed in California, and eventually got a job at an airplane parts factory. A visit to a nightclub to see Lou Rawls perform was a catalyst for changing his life. “I was making $3 an hour, looking for friendly women, but nobody found me interesting,” he said. “Then Rawls walked in, and all these women are talking to him.”

He bought a cheap guitar at a pawnshop, started learning to play it and writing songs, and eventually recorded a demo. Clarence Avant, a music executive who had just founded an independent label, Sussex, took note and set him up with the keyboardist Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. & the MG’s, to produce an album.

“Bill came right from the factory and showed up in his old brogans and his old clunk of a car with a notebook full of songs,” Mr. Jones told Rolling Stone. “When he saw everyone in the studio, he asked to speak to me privately and said, ‘Booker, who is going to sing these songs?’ I said, ‘You are, Bill.’ He was expecting some other vocalist to show up.”

Mr. Withers was laid off from his factory job a few months before “Just as I Am” came out. After the album’s release, he recalled, he received two letters on the same day. One was from his workplace asking him to return to work. The other was from “The Tonight Show,” where he appeared in November 1971.”  NYT April 3, 2020.

What an amazing story! Bill Withers, with no music background, bought a guitar and started writing and playing music in his 30s. “It was just something I decided to do,” he said. He was inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder in 2015.undefined

For the record, “Ain’t No Sunshine” which garnered Withers his first Grammy was the B-side to “Harlem.”

We are going to get through this time of Covid-19. We are going to keep the fire bright. We are all connected!

So, for this edition of StreetLights On A Saturday Night, I leave you with a little love from Bill Withers. I truly hope it has been a lovely day, friends.

Life is better with a soundtrack!

Be safe. Be love. Be kind.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #Whatawonderfulworld #StreetLightsonasaturdaynight #TheKindnessClub #grace #Weareallconnected #Lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack

streetlights on a Saturday night 2 of 3 April 1st, 2020

StreetLights on a Saturday night

Part 2 of 3
Last Ride


Occurred March 25th, 2018

It was late Saturday night, after midnight. Okay, early Sunday morning!

I am exhausted. My whole week went sideways. It seems to do that often. I haven’t slept well in days. My restless legs have kept me up. It’s a nice bonus every time I get one of those steroid injections in my neck for a collapsed disc. My goals for the week were on the horizon but now have completely vanished. A few more rides like the last one and I am just done.

It is day 110 of recovery from depression rock bottom back in early December. I have managed to keep clear of the fog, for the most part. That nasty shadow has been chasing me, but hasn’t been able to catch me. I have been keeping it under control.

I am so tired. No way to hit that bonus. I think it may be time to head home. I will start again in the morning. Means, I miss church again but, need to work.

I was on highway 114 coming back from the west and looking to make the highway 121 exchange to head home.

The Lyft app began chirping with a request. Wow, its 17 minutes away. I accepted it. It turns out it was coming from the airport. I guess there is a real shortage of drivers in the queue at the airport. It isn’t common to get an airport pickup 17 minutes away. So, I headed in. I didn’t get far before the rider cancelled. I guess he didn’t like the wait time.

Well, I am headed toward the airport anyway. I will take just one more rider. I will make this one count and then head home to try again tomorrow. Just one more trip. Just then, the app started chirping again, 11 minutes away this time. I accepted it. Wow, another airport request. Bet they cancel. But I am going that way.

This request wasn’t canceled. It was a pickup at DFW Airport Terminal A. Really late for activity there. I was exhausted and feeling beat down. I could feel that shadow starting to move around me. I was feeling sorry for myself and I was feeling like a failure, my mind was getting dark. But I am going to get this one last rider home.
As I approached the Terminal I saw my passenger, looking at me. Man, this guy looked worse than I feel. You could tell he was running on empty just by watching him move as I pulled up.

Just this last ride. Just one more ride and I will head home. I feel like I haven’t seen or spent time with my family in weeks. I have missed church and my friends there. Now I am going to miss everyone again. I will GET UP and keep fighting again tomorrow, I guess. Starting to wonder what the point is. I am so tired. Just one more ride tonight. Just one more Saturday night drive. Ok, time to put on a smile and get this guy home. Clearly he needs to get there. Got to keep movin’. Got to keep fighting. Else, who am I?

Hello James. Welcome back to DFW. Let’s see where we are headed…

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles #weareallconnected #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack


streetlights on a Saturday night 3 of 3, April 1st, 2020

StreetLights on a Saturday night
Part 3 of 3
Silver Linings

Occurred March 25, 2018

In the struggle of life, especially those long stretches of time when we try to change, to improve, there is a strong counteracting force. It will knock you down, kick you, and steal your lunch money! You get the idea. Change is hard. When we attempt it, we often fail, and then fail again.

There are often times of sorrow or sadness. We are emotional, loving beings. When we are away from our loved ones it takes an emotional toll. When we lose someone, it takes a toll. When we become sick, it takes a toll.

When we must isolate ourselves at home, it takes a toll.

Something I know to be true, God is active in our lives. God puts people in our lives when we need them. God won’t give us more than we can handle. And, God has a purpose for each of us.

Last Saturday I was run down. Last Saturday I was feeling depressed. I was driving late, and I was exhausted. I picked up James from the airport and took him home to his house in Frisco. James seemed to fall into the car feeling exhausted himself. We got through the introductions and started the trip. I asked him if he had been traveling all day and he smiled and said he had a horrible trip. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. He said he desperately just wanted to make it home with no more issues, problems, or delays.

“I’ve got you covered!” I said. “Now tell me what happened on this horrible trip.” So James began telling this remarkable story of bad hotel rooms, broken rental cars, setbacks at work, and crazy flight delays. When he was done, I told him we needed to get him home as fast as we can so he can get out of my car and take that bad mojo with him! He laughed, but said the odds were against us. He was tired of travel and sad because he missed his family. I could certainly relate to that.

“James, your story alone is hilarious. Yes, it was all troubling and difficult to endure, but that was one of the worst travel experiences I have listened to, which makes it funny! And here you are on the final leg of your journey home. I will get us there!”

James asked me how my week went. I told him, not so well and explained all the things that went wrong with my week. After each of us had a chance to tell our stories to each other we both began to look for the silver lining, and we found it!

James ended up closer to his headquarters as a result of an issue with his first hotel room in Denver. He got upgraded when his rental car broke down. He could have been on the flight when the raft was triggered. It could have happened in the air. As far as his phone goes, well, stuff happens. But how cool was it that the trunk was triggered, sending his coffee mug right to him. That must have been quite a site. I told James I thought he now has a great story to tell his family in the morning to make them all laugh.

My week wasn’t the worst. Sure, I was tired. But I had so many wonderful interactions with people. I picked up some job leads and received help from numerous friends. James asked me what was most important in my life. I told him, my family. He said forget driving in the morning and get to church. He was right! I needed to be with my family. And I needed to recharge spiritually.

Sometimes, we need help gaining the right perspective on things. God is active in our lives. Meeting James was God’s doing. James was his messenger. And I was God’s messenger and delivery service for James. I delivered him to his doorstep at 1:58 AM. No issues or problems occurred.

Two weary travelers offering each other kind words and an ear. Just what each of us needed at the time. And our journey continues…

April 1st, 2020

Easter is almost upon us. I can’t think of a better time to use kind words and to listen. In doing so, we can alter the trajectory of someone’s life, in a very good way!

We can do even do this from home.

We are all connected.

Be safe. Be love. Be kind.

#Kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #weareallconnected



StreetLights On A Saturday Night

The Wisdom Of Downton Abbey

Well, here we are, 2020. Look how far we’ve come in the last 100 years!

Actually…

maybe you are better off not looking.

A few months ago, just before I took off for my neck surgery, I gave Andrew and Jennifer a ride home from the airport. They live in West Fort Worth. Andrew and Jennifer were coming home from a visit to Jennifer’s parents who live in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to write about them earlier but for some reason I kept getting sidetracked with a story within the story.

You see, writing about this wonderful couple, who are engaged to be married this summer, kept turning into writing about a TV show we spent much of the ride talking about.

Yep, Downton Abbey hijacked the story.

That’s ok. We’ll make a go of it anyway.

Jennifer said they were looking forward to getting home and doing nothing! At which point, Andrew said they had the rest of the week and the weekend off, so they were going to binge watch, yep, Downton Abbey. They apparently wanted to rewatch the whole series before seeing the movie. Plus, their trip to Portland was a very active one; not so much a vacation. So they were both exhausted.

“What is a weekend?”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

They planned their trip in order to help Jennifer’s parents move into a much smaller house. Andrew jokingly said that they kept most of the things that had a place in the big house. He said they kinda missed the point of downsizing.

From that moment of the trip, our conversation seemed to be about or circle back to Downton Abbey. I can certainly think of worse topics. I am a big fan of the show too.

“We must always travel in hope.”
— Carson, Downton Abbey, Season 5

Our discussion ebbed and flowed around one theme in particular. We kept comparing the way people behaved 100 years ago with today. That comparison left all three of us feeling a bit disappointed with humanity. With all the incredible technology we have now, escpecially regarding communication, transportation, and ease of access to knowledge, we seem to be in much shorter supply of intelligence. I would add love, peace, kindness, joy, and hope to the list.

“How you hate to be wrong,” said Isobel, practically baiting the Dowager to drop the following: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”

Andrew noted that we are all so much more opinionated now and a quick google search is all it takes to find information that backs our opinion and thus, in our own minds, makes that opinion, fact. So why would we consider anyone else’s now? They are clearly mistaken, uninformed, etc.

The story of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey slows everything down. Information back then came from books, newspapers, telegrams, and toward the end of the series, the telephone. Sources of information were few. Therefore, it was important to be reliable and accurate if you were a source. Now all you need is access to the internet. Somebody out there will believe whatever nonsense you are peddling. Downton Abbey is telling us to slow down and be responsible with our words, our knowledge.

The other side of this communication advancement is simply how we treat each other. Now that we can send out messages and posts like this one, we have somehow managed to remove any filters. In other words, we treat each other like crap.

Is that the byproduct of instant access? When we address each other face to face, there still exists a set of manners. We treat each other with respect. But now we can go home and post all kinds of jokes, memes, nasty insults and mockery with no sense of guilt or respect.

Don’t get meme wrong, I have a sense of humor and love a good joke when I see it. But if something we post isn’t something we could say about someone (or someone’s beliefs) in person, then that something stinks of poo and we shouldn’t post it. One other virtue Downton Abbey tries to teach us about communication is, even if we are right, that doesn’t mean we should say it!

I have been quite vocal lately. I have made several very sharp attacks. My anger and frustration has been consistently high. Yesterday, I came across a quote by Mother Teresa. At least, I think it was Mother Teresa. I found it on the very trustworthy internet. I didn’t bother to research the source. But hey, good words are good words. Anyway, Mother Teresa says,

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Ohhh, that got me thinking about my anger and my attacks. Anger, is ok. We all get angry and that anger is often appropriate. I considered what I was angry about and whether or not I went too far. Perhaps, a little. It is easy for anger to turn us into irrational. We can do and say things we regret. I think maybe I have been to judgemental in a few places this week.

My anger, my cause is valid. There are a great many injustices. There are far too many dark forces at work today. So, Mother Teresa has a great point. But anger is important too. And it is powerful, if controlled. Pure rage doesn’t do anyone any good. Neither does moral judgement, at least without cause. It’s a fine line is all I am saying. So let’s keep fighting the good fight, but be careful not to get all judgey beyond the argument at hand.

“Because I want the pleasure of saying I told you so.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton takes us through many of the same messes we find ourselves in today, but it does so in a 100 year old setting and with a society and culture that doesn’t exist anymore. Frankly, the idea of someone else helping me dress and undress every day is laughable. What I like about watching the challenges of life through the Downton lense is we see the issues and their true weight with much more clarity. The show doesn’t avoid anything. At one point or another, the characters are faced with some serious issues: war, murder, rape, homosexuality, abortion, children outside of wedlock, the exclusion of people based on their social status or skin color.

“I’m not a romantic, but even I will concede that the heart does not exist soley for the purpose of pumping blood.”

Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley

Of course let us not forget the brighter issues of friendships from unexpected places, romance, love, finding one’s purpose, the birth of a child, pigs (hey, pigs are cute and funny on screen), music, overcoming personal obstacles, and simply celebrating life. Oh let’s not forget the beauty of the English countryside.

I enjoyed watching these issues played out in such a different setting, without modern complications like social media, the ability to reach anyone, anywhere on the planet, via phone, text, messenger, skype, etc. There were far fewer complications back then. So for us, we get to watch the characters and think, ha! You are so lucky it’s only 1920! No way would you be able to deal with that issue in 2020!

“I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.”
— Cora, Lady Grantham, Downton Abbey, Season 3

The point I am trying to make is this. Downton Abbey shines a light on problems that existed then and still exist today. But when put in a much clearer and, dare I say simpler context, it makes us realize just how ridiculous we are to still be fighting with each other about certain issues. Watching Downton Abbey reminds me that we have had 100 years to get past certain “hang ups” we have with each other and still haven’t become a more enlightened and inclusive human race. In fact, if anything, we seem to have become even more polarized. Perhaps Mr. Carson, Miss Padmore, and Lady Grantham (the Dowager) had it right by opposing all the new technology, and changes to society.

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H. G. Wells novel.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton Abbey takes us back to a much different time and a much different world and is quite the powerful story to help us reflect on just how stuck we are today.

In that time, words mattered. One was very careful about using the right words, avoiding anything dramatic or profane. Now we seem free to say whatever on social media, no filter. Just free flowing hatred, mockery and insults. What happened to the respect? What has happened to decency and dignity?

Even in the most regal of English houses, life is messy. It is full of pain and disappointment.

It is about lifes ups and downs as much as it is about happy endings.
It is a testament to the triumph of love and kindness. Mr. BARROW is proof of that.

SPOILER ALERT

And so the series ends on New Year’s eve with Edith celebrating her marriage and Anna giving birth upstairs, Carson retiring and Barrow coming back to replace him as Butler. I still haven’t seen the movie so don’t talk about it! 🧡😉

And in the final moments of the last episode, Downton Abbey leaves us with one very memorable and very true message,

We are all connected!

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #weareallconnected