A new blog category examining how our lack of civility today is causing horrendous harm. And perhaps what we can do in our own tiny worlds to make our big world more kind.
My mother and father, decades ago, taught me, more by example than word, to be polite, to say “Thank you” and “I’m sorry.” To give others the benefit of the doubt. To be KIND. I most definitely HAVE NOT always lived up to their instructions, but I always harbored them (instructions and parents) in my mind and heart.
My folks have passed away now.
I am beginning to fear that maybe common civility and etiquette (two of kindness’s offspring) have passed away as well.
Recently watching Ketanji Brown Jackson garnering enough votes in the Senate to become the first black woman ever to become a justice on the Supreme Court in its nearly 250 year history, I was shocked, embarrassed, appalled to see the Republican side of the aisle get up and walk stoically, rudely out of the chamber after the tally had been announced.
Political and ideological side-ings aside, what has happened to common courtesy? Jackson won enough votes to be seated. Why not at least applaud (even if with gritted teeth) the historic First Time Ever?
At this year’s supposedly celebratory Oscars, Chris Rock and Will Smith … well, you know.
At nearly every red light (at least here in Savannah), you DO NOT start to drive forward when the light turns green. Even though, as I learned in kindergarten, green means go. Why not, for heaven’s sake? Because folks now keep speeding, barreling through the red light for five, ten seconds after the light changes. That early greenness at traffic lights has now become Guillotine Green.
Controversial House of Representatives member Marjorie Taylor Greene (from my Georgia) insanely screeches for Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and husband Chasten to stay out of girls’ bathrooms! What? Huh?
President Biden hot-mike-ly refers to a Fox News correspondent as a “stupid SOB.”
Trump …. Don’t get me started.
The other day, Yankees fans throw debris at Cleveland Guardians outfielders at game’s end.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
Are we so politically, culturally, ideologically separated that common courtesy, simple kindness, and for-the-good-of-all common sense have left the room?
Are we in such a hurry to “Get There!” that we will risk our lives and the lives of others (even our babies in child seats as I saw recently) to risk it through the Green Guillotine?
Is Simple Kindness sliding down the hierarchy of Best Human Practices?
I hope not. But I just don’t know. This blog category examines those questions.
Suggestion For This Moment: I encourage you to set forth a little INTENTION to simply pay more ATTENTION to how you treat other people in your life TODAY. Family at home. Coworkers. Folks on the street, in nearby cars, at the checkout line, etc. Just try to bring AWARENESS to the dynamics of your human connections for the rest of this day. I will too.
Here’s an old post from my blog back in 2014, when I was semi-retired, teaching as an adjunct at Savannah College of Art and Design. I recently looked at it as 2022 made its way into our lives. May these questions be an encouragement to you.
This past fall term at SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design), where I teach composition to international students, my course topic was Happiness Studies.
Each week, I introduced a new question, which I told the students had the potential to make them happier–IF they took the time to ask and then answer the question.
Here are the ten questions. I challenge you to ask them to yourself whenever you need a dose of joy.
Dr. Saye’s Top Ten Happiness Questions
1. Just how important is it?
2. Do I realize that I can choose to think a thought that feels better?
3. Why do I sometimes try to control other people? That’s really not my job.
4. What do I see RIGHT NOW that is beautiful?
5. Who has helped me recently?
6. What is a good holiday memory?
7. What do I really, really love?
8. Do I realize that I can take three deep breaths right now and center myself? My breath is my life.
9. Who can I be a blessing to in the next hour or so? How can I do that?
10. Am I paying attention to NOW (and not wasting time regretting the past or worrying about the future)?
I encourage you to print these questions, put them up some place where you can easily see them, and start asking.
I’ll turn &$#@! on January 10. Well, Tuesday morning, I had an early birthday gift—a colonoscopy!
Hours earlier that morn, at 3 a.m. to be exact, as I was groggily downing my second serving of Suprep Bowel Prep (more about THAT later) …
… I had a lightheaded “I-can’t-remember-the-LAST-TIME-I-ATE!” epiphany that my blog followers would probably want to hear all about my upcoming procedure! (Was I right, or what?) Thus, in order to be faithful to my thousands, hundreds, dozens, single digits of followers, I would need to remember to take DETAILED mental notes about my experience. I’m a retired English professor, after all.
Butt hold on, let’s start at the very beginning, just like that “Do-Re-Mi” song from The Sound of Music.
Because of a couple of slightly concerning issues back in December, Dr. Ken Griffin, my primary care physician here in Savannah (the very best in the Western Hemisphere, btw) suggested that I go ahead and get a colonoscopy instead of waiting the full ten years for my next scheduled one in 2023. TMI already?
Butt first, I was referred to local general surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Mandel for a quick look-see (DO NOT THINK ABOUT THAT TOO MUCH), who thankfully decided I wasn’t ready for “non-surgical rubber band ligation.” What?! Rubber bands? And why get lawyers involved?!
The next step found me making an appointment with gracious gastroenterologist Dr. Mark Murphy, at The Center for Digestive and Liver Health and The Endoscopy Center (whew, that’s a mouthful), who would end up performing? administering? doing my colonoscopy.
If you’ve had a colonoscopy, you know that the preparation is tougher than the procedure. And that Suprep Oral Solution I mentioned earlier? When I walked into CVS to pick it up, I nearly went into a panic attack (you may know about my issues with anxiety from my “Hello Anxiety” posts) at the price …
Butt what calmed me down was realizing it wasn’t just any old bottle of bowel prep you might find at The Dollar Tree. No, $100 dollars bought me an entire kit! With TWO bottles of bowel prep, a reusable non-BPA (thank goodness) plastic cup, and nonfiction reading material!
Husband Robert just interrupted my inspired blogging to complain, “Neal, don’t you think it’s about time to move on from writing about the bowel prep? It’s starting to bum me out.”
Well, okay, here’s the final thing I’ll say, show about my experience with Suprep Bowel Sodium/Potassium/Magnesium (Isn’t that $1.29 Gatorade?) Sulfate Oral Solution …
After a LONG night, Robert and I showed up at the Endoscopy Center at 9 a.m. You have to have a driver for these procedures, you know, you can’t just hightail it to a colonoscopy date all by yourself, for goodness sake. Having a driver made me feel sort of special, inexplicably, not to mention inappropriately, reminding me of Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy.
All kidding aside (for a moment, at least) ALL the folks at the Center were terrific—friendly, welcoming, professional and so adept at calming me down and assuring me that all would be well, that I was being taken care of. I wish I could remember everyone’s names to thank them individually.
Super amicable and soothing Nurse Molly showed me to my little smartly curtained waiting/prep cubicle, and when I was all snug in my little bed (kinda like Goldilocks), Molly brought me a heated blanket! I made a mental note to tell Robert ALL about THAT.
Then the hippest anesthesiologist in the history of anesthesiologists, Dr. Gantt, paid me a visit to let me know about the upcoming sedation. I couldn’t pay much attention because I kept looking at what made Dr. Gantt so very hip: his choice of headwear. His scrub cap (is that what you call it?) was all colorful/islandy. Dr Gantt told me he gets his caps from a company in Key West! The design looked something like this …
… but don’t hold me to it. I was about to have a colonoscopy. Do you expect me to remember everything perfectly?
After the hip anesthesiologist left my cubicle, I slowly settled back into my cocoon, gazed up and began to behold the most beautiful blue sky, replete with white fluffy clouds. Mesmerized at the heavenly scene miraculously forming above me, I suddenly felt nirvana-ish, at peace with the world, confident that my procedure was well under way, and the hip doctor’s sedation a splendid success! All I had to do was float, inhaling joy and health into my body, exhaling love and peace out into the world. Ohm.
But then Molly came back into my little cubicle, which I had dubbed Neal’s Nap Pad, and told me it was time to wheel away to my procedure (!). What? I had been staring up at the common area ceiling, painted a soothing light blue with white clouds to calm nervous patients like me.
Nurse Molly said the sweetest thing to me as I left her: “I wish all our patients were just like you.” And I wish all nurses were just like Molly.
Wheeled into the procedure room, I was greeted by two delightful young ladies, but I can’t remember their names, darn it, an anesthesia nurse and a doctor-helper nurse (see how intelligent I am with medical lingo). The anesthesia nurse told me I was about to take a great little nap! And get this, the doctor-helper nurse saw from my armband (more about that later) that my birthday was coming up and asked how I planned to celebrate. I told her that Robert and I were keeping it low key, just going out to eat. [Interestingly, everybody seemed to know all about Robert, which I thought was just so 2022, forgetting that they knew about him because he’s my “designated driver.” Wait, am I getting this Center for Digestive and Liver Health experience confused with one a while back at Savannah Tap House?]
My new friend, the doctor-helper nurse, then went on to explain that her family had recently had a celebration by going out to eat as well.
“We went to Toni’s Steakhouse.”
“Oh. My. Goodness!” I think I yell/gasped, probably worrying the anesthesia nurse a little. “That’s where we are going! I’ve never been!”
She then aptly suggested that Robert and I share the delicious steak for two deal, which comes with four sides! I assured her that we will. And we will! I’ll post a picture next Monday. Now you have something special to look forward to.
Well, as much as I wanted to know what sides to choose from, things made a swift turn when Dr. Murphy stood up from where he had been doing who knows what at a computer near my feet. He told his helper nurse that he liked Toni’s too. The room started to feel like a Norman Rockwell family painting.
Dr. Murphy was terrific, saying that he knew my nurse daughter Amy (I need to come up with a better way to name nurses), sharing a funny little anecdote about a traffic stop, explaining to me all about the colonoscopy and assuring me that I would be fine.
Then I was out like a light.
Butt I think I recall snippets of the convo between the doctor and the two nurses as they worked on me.
Anesthesia Nurse: “Isn’t he famous? I think he’s famous.”
Dr. Murphy: “I think you’re right. I just can’t place him.”
Doctor-Helper Nurse: “I really should have told him the sides.”
Dr. Murphy: “I think he’s an actor. You know, they love Savannah.”
Anesthesia Nurse: “Hmm, I don’t think so. I think he’s a fitness model.”
Doctor-Helper Nurse: “Did you read his armband? He’ll be &@%! next Monday on his birthday! Who would have thought?! He doesn’t look a day over 39!”
The next thing I knew, nice Nurse Cassie was welcoming me back to Planet Earth and giving me some ginger ale! We hit it off, both having vacationed in the Poconos. Cassie soon walked me out to my designated driver (I felt just a tad like leaving the Taphouse). And I said to Cassie, according to Robert: “Everybody was so nice, if I didn’t have to have a colonoscopy, I’d like to come and hang out with y’all.”
And look, you get gifts. A neat holder pouch for your glasses.
This beautifully simple bracelet. Here I have it paired with another bracelet gift from Robert.
And, believe it or not, luggage!
Thanks so much to the talented, good natured, and kindhearted professionals at The Center for Digestive and Liver Health! The best!
Dr Murphy and sensational staff really did give me a most appreciated early birthday gift: a clean bill of colon health with no polyps. Again, TMI?