Tuesday, September 24, 2013

♫ Comfortably Numb ♫

On the way to work this morning, I was listening to 106.9/107.5 The Eagle, Houston's Classic Hits Station.  I am driving my daughter's Chevy truck for a while and she does not have Sirius/XM radio like my Ford truck does, so I am forced to endure the inane drivel that is morning drive-time FM radio.

An old Pink Floyd song, "Comfortably Numb," came on, and it really caught my attention and started me on a day-long journey through some emotions that were deeply hidden inside my soul. (or maybe I was just craving that morning French Vanilla Cappuccino).

At any rate, the song got me to thinking about the wide variety of meanings that I associate with someone or myself being "comfortably numb." A Google Search for "meaning of comfortably numb lyrics Pink Floyd" came up with some possibilities:  1) Roger Waters in a dentist's chair receiving meds for a toothache; 2) reference to heroin use; 3) Roger Waters not feeling well due to his diabetes and taking meds before a concert; or 4) alluding to any adult who has wishes and dreams that have eroded.

Here are some of the thoughts I thought during the day:

My immediate thoughts raced back to the last two years watching my dad wither away and die with my mom dying exactly three months later. Numb does not even begin to describe the feeling during the spring of this year as our family was forced to say goodbye to both of them. I think I reached a point of being "comfortably numb" sometime late this summer. Still not accepting, but slowly trying to sort it all out. When I feel like I am going to be able to experience some of the raw emotion and feelings of loss and sadness, I revert back to the "comfortably numb" state. Deep down, however, I know that I need to make that emotional journey, and sooner rather than later. For now, toward this topic, I remain "comfortably numb."

After picking my my French Vanilla Cappuccino (see previous link), I started thinking about how our society in general goes about its daily rituals "comfortably numb." I know there are a lot of caring, loving, spiritual people in the world, but it really is easy to slip into that same, comfortable routine each day and find ways to minimize or ignore the harsh realities in our world.

This got me to thinking about parenting and the modern American family. With all the pressures faced on a daily basis by parents who are trying to raise their children, an easy way out is to become "comfortably numb" by tuning out bad behavior and by not bothering to set good examples.  I am aware of a school campus that experienced two fights before school in the last week. Prior to this, the school had seen two fights in the last twelve years.  Is this the new normal for childhood behavior?  Have parents become too "comfortably numb?" Am I a "comfortably numb" parent? What kind of adults will the children of "comfortably numb" parents become?

Since I work in education, I naturally started to think of this topic in terms of the modern school system.  I have been involved in the public education system since 1991, and I have seen a lot of changes in that time.  Each year, I see more and more students become "comfortably numb." They choose not to participate in school activities or are bullied out of participation.  Students sense a growing disconnect between formal education and employment, between "success" and happiness.  In all but a few cases, technology is simply a means of becoming "comfortably numb," not the cause, as so many people would have you believe.  Overworked teachers can too easily become "comfortably numb."  Administrators overwhelmed with discipline issues and funding nightmares can find temporary peace by being "comfortably numb."

As you can see, my mind, conscience, and soul all had a busy day inside my head and heart.

Lest you think that I just went home, crawled under the covers, and cowered in the dark awaiting oblivion (or a "Love It Or List It" rerun), take heart! I went home and blogged about the whole thing!

I also realized that this song was speaking to me and telling me to snap out of my "comfortable numbness."

These things I now know:

  • I know I have to come to terms with the death of both parents three months apart.
  • I know I have to be a better citizen in my school district, in my town, in my state, in my country, and in my world. OUR world.
  • I know I have to be a better parent (or stand-in parent), not only to my own biological Dunklings, but all the honorary Dunklings out there.
  • I know, as an employee in public education, I have a precious responsibility to be the best I can be every day at work. I need to be a positive example at all times, and I need to wake up from my professional numbness and work for lasting, meaningful change.

Is it OK to be "comfortably numb?"

What about you? Are you "comfortably numb?"