A few days ago, I was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by a very good friend of mine. I realize we're supposed to respond within 24 hours or donate to the ALS cause, but it's been a few days now and I haven't posted a video. If I don't do the challenge, will people assume that means I donated $100 towards this insidious disease? Maybe. I'm not totally clear how it works, but the fact of the matter is I didn't donate, nor did I accept my nomination for the challenge.
I've wrestled with my feelings about this whole thing since videos of it started popping up in my Facebook news feed in the last few weeks. Part of me loves the fact that people are uniting and doing something outrageous in hopes of fighting something so awful and, apparently, previously underfunded in research. My kids and I have enjoyed watching our friends dump icy water on their heads. Part of me wants to join them and feel like maybe I'm doing something good and silly (and cold!) at the same time.
Previous to the ice bucket challenge, I didn't know much about ALS. I am very appreciative of the awareness that this Ice Bucket Challenge has brought, for myself and the world at large, about this deadly disease. I've done some research and felt a depth of compassion for people affected by ALS, namely my friend Katie who's father died from this when she was a teen. Anytime I can expand my awareness about something, I am grateful, and....
...there are so many things to be aware of that are terrible and horrible in this world. It feels like there's some sort of contest between horrible things to grab at attention and tug the world's compassion strings. How can I do it all? How can I fund every cause, every 5K race raising money for a tough disease, every homeless person on the corner, every infomercial with those heart-melting brown eyes and those malnourished bodies, every phone solicitor with stories about the families of fallen firefighters, every college kid that stands at my door with hope on their sleeve and a story on their lips of how they are trying to turn their life around and can-you-please-help-me-by-just-buying-one-or-two-magazine-subscriptions?? It just doesn't end and it breaks my heart to think of the enormity of the challenges that exist for people I know and love as well as people I don't know at all, but love still. If that's all I focus on in this world, I'll be overwhelmed, feel impotent and be miserable.
So, the cause is great, yes... as are so many causes. And there is a part of me that wants to participate. It's FUN! It's FOR CHARITY! It's getting INVOLVED and doing so without any other sort of commitment! Just DOOO IT, CLANCY!.... But, down at some deep, core level FOR ME (not judging this for anyone else, just going through my own process here) I struggle with the fact that social media is pressuring/shaming me into either donating to a cause I've only just heard of and/or dumping ice water on my head.
I don't like being shamed into doing something, whether I agree with the cause or not. I don't like that I worry if people will think I'm a jerk because I don't participate. Shame is something that, thanks to my own Devan Martin, Developmental Life Coach Extraordinaire, and Brene Brown, author, I've been increasing my awareness of in myself. I'm learning to set boundaries and say NO. If I give in to the shame triggers, I am working from my fear-place rather than truer, deeper part of me that is slowly and powerfully emerging, the part of me that is present and aware.
And so, my dear Jenna, who so playfully and lightheartedly nominated me, I lovingly decline the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge I accept is my own growth... learning be aware of my shame triggers, to set a boundary and to say no, publicly and decidedly.
Please know that this is my own process and anyone who takes the challenge and posts their own videos will still be delightfully watched by my children and I. Douse on, America.
(This thing from Mike Rowe was also influential in the coalescing of my thoughts regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge... please read, if you'd like.)