It’s fun to surf around Youtube when there’s a particular subject that’s grabbed my attention. I’ve done this for a number of things: ASMR, airplane landing videos, footage of jets, basejumping, exploring abandoned buildings, ghost footage, animal rescues, videos of soldiers coming home, rollercoaster POVs, interviews with Jesse Ventura, wedding proposal failures (as well as the most epic proposals that didn’t get rejected), amazing human charity… the list goes on and on.
I’m not always chronicling the warm fuzzy topics, though. I’ve circuited 9/11, the faces of HIV/AIDS, Eva Markvoort and her struggle with cystic fibrosis, the life of women in Saudia Arabia, prison rape, Lamb and Lynx Gaede, sex trafficking, tributes to suicide victims, apartheid and white nationalism, the Westboro Baptist Church, suicide bombers, and most recently – bullying. There’s so much to learn about what’s going on that we don’t see, good and terrible. Thank god for the media, or else we wouldn’t hear about any of it.
Being curious is the key to understanding life. I don’t always like the things I’m learning about, but to be fascinated by the unknowns is a gift I’m thankful to have. I was just sitting here watching Never Been Kissed and it got me thinking about how lucky we are to have experienced life on earth as human beings. The movie itself isn’t what sparked it, but being moved by the climax of the movie got me thinking about how deeply impacted I am by lessons conveyed through a means like TV. From the great to the ugly, everything we go through teaches us more about this big world. It forces us to uncover parts of ourselves that we’re ashamed of or don’t want to confront, but it also shows us how we evolve as better human beings. How do we take those ugly fragments of our past, those secrets we keep to ourselves, and turn them into something good? We have the ability to be altruistic, to be philosophical, to have intelligence and to understand, to communicate, to be so liberated because of what our brains can do. We love, and love makes us do some pretty amazing things, doesn’t it? We are amazing creatures, and I think people would have better souls if they’d just take the time to really think about that every once in a while. It seems so common sense and obvious, but how often do we actually appreciate our lives and the life stories we create for ourselves while living them?
I mean, everything we want to understand ultimately is a good thing, even if it’s not a nice part of our world. Compassion is a big part of that, and it almost doesn’t have to be taught. It exists everywhere on this planet. It is so overwhelming when I’m watching very emotional subject matter and really inspiring when I feel what it does to me, and what it makes me want to do. Feeling compassion is what led to me volunteering at the SPCA. It’s why I donate money every month. It’s why I still want to join an HIV/AIDS committee to honour my late friend. It’s why I bend over backwards to help people close to me when they’re in need. It’s why I worry too much. It’s why I sometimes look at Len when he’s sleeping and smile, because love is moving me. And really, when we feel compassion, isn’t it the same thing as love? It doesn’t feel any different.
Take bullying, for example. This is my latest Youtube obsession. This afternoon I watched a documentary on Amanda Todd. A few days ago I watched one that followed a few different kids who were going through it, as well as families who’d already lost a child because of it. And although it’s a really terrible thing, which most of us have either witnessed or dealt with at some point, look at what the outcome has turned into. Legislation is being passed, it’s all over the news and the internet, charities have been set up and the awful deeds have been shamed. The good side to this is that I’ve started seeing videos of teenagers standing up for their peers. Football jocks actually saved a mentally disabled classmate from being bullied when they invited her to start eating lunch with them to protect her from the harassment. That would have changed her life. Not every bullied kid is going to come out of the experience unscathed, but it’s comforting to know that people’s attitudes toward it are starting to shift and that it’s becoming more common to see other kids standing up for one another. When I saw the father of a suicide victim speaking to a crowd in Oklahoma City, and watched the tears roll down his sunken-in cheeks as his heart bled for his child, what I felt in my heart was nothing short of love. This man’s spirit had been beaten to a pulp and he was lost without his son, but he kept pushing through and traveled long distances just to put a face to a tragedy that most people will never have to experience. I pledged to donate to an anti-bullying organization at that moment.
Even in the small things that we strive to understand, whether it be weird eating habits or our own crippling fears, the results of that journey can be amazing… because no matter what it is, it compels us in some way. It might be small, or it might be huge. You might be able to engage in a debate, you might be able to bungee jump to get over a fear of heights, or you might have the courage to do what’s right when you’re faced with a dilemma. Watching roller coaster videos is partly the reason why I was able to finally get on one and not be frozen with horror. Geez, the things we learn from something like Youtube. Our curiosities as human beings can make us overcome some pretty unbelievable things. Do you ever think about how awesome it is that our own minds can push us to do the unthinkable? it comes totally from within and it’s so empowering. This is why the internet has been a godsend for the world. At the click of a mouse, an entirely new world opens up and our ever-expanding minds are in wonderland.