You brought gluten free crackers and goat cheese. Do you have allergies?
Nope, just sensitive to those foods.
I have Lyme Disease.
Ohhh, I have a friend with Lymes.
It’s actually just the one—Lyme.
Oh, that’s good. My friend with Lymes said xyz.
I know someone with Lymes, too!
It’s called Lyme Disease.
Wait, so how does Lymes work, do you have that bullet somewhere on your body? Is the tick still attached? I had a friend brush her hair once after camping, and tons of ticks just fell to the floor!
Let me say it for those in the back—a climate-connected epidemic that is ravaging our country (and the broader world) is called Lyme Disease. There is no “s” at the end. It was named after Lyme, Connecticut, back in the 70s.
Now, I want to be very clear: there’s a reason none of the names are attached to the above conversation. I do not, in any way, want the people who were involved to feel outed or guilty for their role in the dialogue. I’m bringing the interaction to the attention of a wider audience because I believe it illuminates something deeply seated in our culture.
You must’ve misheard me. Or, actually, maybe you weren’t listening…
I don’t know that anyone taught us how.
This will be no surprise to you, reader. You likely sat at a Thanksgiving dinner and saw someone talk past someone else, barreling through the pleasantries of hihow’sworkareyoudatingletmetellyouaboutmybowelproblems. Many public leaders are closer to public pot-stirrers, riling people up to feel things like fear and anger rather than taking the time to stop and truly listen. Of course, there are exceptions. But this is no new idea, and I think the trend of monitoring screen time and teaching stretching to young people is evidence of the tides-a-turning overall.
For this specific context, people just don’t know the facts. I’ve done other writing about my experience with Lyme that I hope to share on a larger platform soon, so this blog will only skim the surface. People don’t even know the name of the disease. It affects more North Americans than AIDS, but we don’t look it in the (bulls)eye and call it by name. I dare you to give it a try. Call it by name. Remember the name. I’m consciously choosing not to answer all of your questions here because, well, some days there’s just not enough energy to feel it, show it, share it. Some days, I want to blend in and force a tight smile when you misname a very real threat to the general public.
I don’t blame anyone for their lack of information around infectious diseases. It’s not your fault if you have no frame of reference. You are an expert about something I know nothing about.
Heck, many of the doctors I visited had no idea what they were talking about either. They’ve been cheated of substantial research because there’s simply not a viable funding stream. It’s been diverted time and time again because, as Al Gore groans “duh” in the distance, I’ll type that the truth is inconvenient.
But that gets political. Can’t go there. Then people will stop listening. That is, of course, if they were listening to begin with.
Some people came to this land, seeking asylum from a ruler who wouldn’t hear them. Some people who were already here have been persistently and violently silenced. Some creatures are especially small, and it’s very difficult to hear them. Some presidents put their hands over their ears when the people they hired tell them data-driven data about the fate of our shared home.
How much longer will we allow time to hurry by, preparing for this holiday or that deadline, without listening for others?
Children don’t ask, “Santa, can you agree please?” No, the primary concern is, “Santa, can you HEAR me?”
Why must we import all of our practices around mindfulness and listening?
Is there a possibility that we could shape an American methodology for being present? Could we include the whole continent? Did I lose you back at the Al Gore thing?
Is anyone listening?