As I approach my 73 birthday, this little query popped up on my radar screen. It seems appropriate but before you all answer for me I thought I would wrestle with the concept for a bit. Now it seems the term can be used in science, economics and law but I am going to tend towards the most simplistic. Definition: appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.
What does all that mean? On a product level you have something that meets the needs of the moment. Whale oil worked back when as a source of energy but today it is forgotten. We used to have Boom Boxes but now we have IPhones. Cars used to have fins and hood ornaments but now are sleek and aerodynamic. Houses even ten years old now seem “dated.” Tastes change and we are susceptible to the search for better and better stuff even if the old ones are more than adequate.
On the world front, nations drift in and out of relevancy. Russia is a great example. From a Cold War superpower to a breakup and now trying once again to be part of the discussion. The British Empire is no longer supreme after it had ruled the world for so long. China, Greece, Spain, Israel, Palestine, South America, all long for prominence and seek their place in the world order. Ergo being relevant.
On the personal front this becomes intriguing. For instance sports or entertainment stars all have their moment in the sun. Is this a brief stint or a lasting legacy? They become our heroes or heroines to be adulated and then tossed aside as yesterday’s news. Some just grow old and others mange to create their own self destruction. The public is fickle and harsh.
My relevance as a human being might relate to my color, race, creed, status or sexual orientation. Blacks, white supremacists, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Serbs, Somalis, Vietnamese all drift in and out of our collective consciousness. Gays were lepers and transgenders not even defined a decade or so ago. CEO’s one day had everyone fawning at their every move and now are relegated to relative obscurity.
People don’t go down easy as they seek their former notoriety. We are chock a block with comebacks and reincarnations. It seems the limelight is seductive and heady stuff. You now sit on boards or become a spokesperson. Chair of this fundraiser or that. Don’t get excited. It just means your are writing a bigger check. Wait! Do you know who I am? Sorry Charlie, you are no longer a Star Kist Tuna.
I believe we all desire to be worth something in someone’s eyes. It is a combination of wanting to belong and wanting to contribute in some way. It is that crazy thing called ego by which we define ourselves. We strive. We compare. Everyone keeps score and don’t for a second try to deny it. It makes us complete and yet can lead to our downfall.
The spate of shootings and bombings are more than weird people doing crazy things. I am not condoning their mayhem but for a moment think of their circumstance. Let’s say you were born to someone who really didn’t want you or didn’t have the ability to take care of you. Your early years weren’t filled with cuddles but rather you were beaten or just plain old neglected in front of the TV. No guidance, no role models, no love. You are not relevant to anyone.
Now you say that is the problem with blacks and Hispanics today. They don’t have a family structure. Beware of casting stones. Look around you and see screwed up rich kids as well. Single parents cross economic lines. Psychological problems among our higher echelons of society are in a way more perverse. It comes back to all of us wanting to be relevant and worthy. Or even worse the judge of that.
The crowd is cruel. They make anonymous judgements. They could care less of their outcomes. That taunt and they bully. Some of us have the wherewithal and internal gumption to either fight back or take solace in our own self assessment. Some are scarred for life and decide to take their own lives and others as well to give a final up yours to society. It is at once almost Inevitable and yet so incredibly sad.
When I look at myself I am no longer relevant in many situations. I worked hard on my Creek in Denver but who remembers that guy. Wall Street? Vail? Arizona? A long long time ago. I love young people but I am not sure I am in their purview. That’s not a tragedy but how life goes.
I take great joy in my wife and my wonderful family. I have great friends and am more than fortunate to live where I do and the way I do. But something else has happened.I really don’t take myself too seriously. I have concentrated on other people’s relevance and probably put my own on a back burner. It’s not so much about me(well maybe a little) but more about them.
I take great delight in reaching out to people. I will say hello to anyone and everyone, much to my family’s chagrin. You can be the biggest celebrity or the checkout person at Publix.You are all the same. I want to make your day. I want to let you know you matter. It is not a put on. You do! If I can get a smile out of some sourpuss or see a glance of recognition from a waiter or store clerk it makes my day. It just what I do and I hope it makes me slightly relevant.
If this sounds like palp you are welcome to your own judgement call. But just think how simple it is. It costs nothing to reach out. Be understanding and welcoming. Don’t try to gauge someone’s relevance to your life. Just think about theirs. Works for me.
Ted The Great
As I have traveled the world I also ask the baristas at Starbucks what percentage of people say please and how many say thank you. The best was Aukland NZ….about 75%. The worst? Vail,CO 0% I said no way but that night we went to a high end bar. I asked the bartender the same. He replied, “They don’t even know I exist.”
Bullying is a complex social phenomena. 28% of kids grades 6-12 report instances. Parents are aware of the bullying about 50% of the time and teachers only about 10%. Suicidal ideation is already present in many that are bullied. It just adds to the problem. Bullies have a higher social status and use it to enforce their will and overcome any objections from observers. Girls are more likely to be verbally abused and boys physically.
There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. In the workplace, many employees — and half of CEOs — report feeling lonely in their roles.
Benefits of Smiling:
• Improved Mood. Smiling can boost your mood when you’re feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. …
• Lower Blood Pressure. …
• Stress Relief. …
• Better Relationships. …
• Stronger Immune Function. …
• Pain Relief. …
• Longer Life.
Need I say more.