I don’t know if you are aware of it, but September has been designated as Self-Care Month.
The mission for the month, according to the publicity, says it’s “A time to remind us that taking care of ourselves, first and foremost, is essential....We all tend to put others’ needs before our own, and it is crucial to remember that we cannot fill another’s cup from our own empty vessel.”
I thought that last phrase was pretty catchy.
The original idea for a Self-Care Month must have been aimed at real care-takers who are exhausting themselves caring for a sick family member or public servants who are overwhelmed with the job of taking care of whole communities. Or maybe moms and dads who are trying to care for all the needs of a young family. I get that.
But I’m afraid that most people in this Age of Me First Incivility don’t need to be told to take care of themselves. Most of us are doing a pretty good job of taking care of Number 1, and not just in September.
I was aware that society as a whole was becoming less civil and more selfish, but two years ago I watched an astonishing example of it.
I was with a group from our church at a Christian conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in the middle of the Bible Belt, right smack in the Civil South, where we extend Southern Hospitality to each other and even to people from Up North, bless their hearts.
On the last night of the conference we had been standing in a line for about 45 minutes with at least another 30 minutes to go to see Former President George W. Bush, who was on the final program for that night. The line in front of us and behind us stretched out of sight, but we all figured it was worth the long wait to see and hear a former leader of the free world.
As our group turned a corner, two young, well-dressed couples suddenly walked up and broke into the line behind us where there was a slight gap between people. Their rudeness wasn’t going to extend our wait, but we were all speechless with amazement at their lack of concern for the other hundreds of people behind them.
One member of our group couldn’t stand it and addressed the four respectable-looking line-breakers. “Do y’all realize you broke in line here? Those people behind you have been in standing this line over an hour.”
One of the women replied with a smirk, “Well, if it doesn’t bother us, it shouldn’t bother you.” She indicated that if it did, we would just have to get over it.
Several other remarks were traded, but the couples remained where they were, chatting and laughing among themselves. They were practicing Self-Care, I guess, “filling up their vessels” maybe from a hard week of vacationing in the mountains. But I don’t think they were interested in filling up someone else’s cup. They just seemed intent on making themselves comfortable.
People are certainly taking care of themselves right here on the streets of Magee.
Have you noticed the number of people who are running stop signs in town now? Their time is too important, apparently, to waste on making sure they don’t run out in front of somebody who has the right of way.
And when they do bother to halt for a second at a four-way stop, they then shoot out into the intersection first, whether it’s their turn to go or not. What happened to letting the first person at the stop go first, then the second and so on? It’s not a game in which the first person who can stomp on the accelerator wins! Is driver’s education not being taught any more?
And almost no one in town actually makes a real turn now. A careful 90-degree turn onto another street takes too much time for drivers who are “taking care of themselves” this month.
If you are stopped and waiting to cross a street, be careful. Drivers turning right onto your road in front of you will not pull completely past you and then execute a 90-degree turn. They start swerving before they get to the front of your car and swoop diagonally in front of you within a inch of your bumper. They accompany this maneuver with an angry scowl at you for being in their way. If you weren’t there, they could angle all the way across your lane to make their turn and not even have to slow down!
The theme for this Self-Care Month is “Be comfortable with who you are.” The rude couples in Tennessee were certainly comfortable with their rudeness. The drivers around town are so comfortable with reckless driving endangering the rest of us.
I’m really surprised that someone thought we needed a Self-Care/ Me First Month. Most of us don’t seem to be wearing ourselves out “putting others’ needs before our own,” do we?