Is that sweat on your cheeks?

While in the south of France a month ago, Tina and I sat down on a park bench overlooking a vista. The view was a landscape that seemed to end in the Palace of Popes situated in the walled city of Avignon.

We sat quietly for about 3 or 4 minutes. I looked over at Tina and noticed a water droplet on her cheek near her jawline. “Are you sweating?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said sarcastically.

We laughed. The view had taken her. And she couldn’t help but let it move her.

Above is a still I pulled from a phone video I took.

Between the two of us, it seems that one of us is more frequently moved to sweaty cheek syndrome. We are two emotionally connected people, internally and externally. And when something with substance moves us, we don’t hold back.

There are any number of impetuses for sweaty cheeks. Both silly and not.

For instance this video (below), as soon as the woman tentatively steps onto the dance party decal and sees the impending dance party professionals approaching, my cheeks start sweating.

Sometimes I sit and watch our oldest dog, Talulah. She’s been at my side or around me for 11 years. I watch her slow down. Her fur is graying. She can’t hear me approach her to cuddle her. But when I do, she seems to love it more than anything in the world. I stare at her and my cheeks sweat.

Or watching Ted Lasso and his radar-laser focus on helping others. It gets me every time.

I read this Jason Kottke post this morning about Ted Lasso and his curious idiot syndrome, and it moved me to tears.

Kottke posted a portion of an interview with the Ted Lasso team. Jason Sudeikis talked about the approach to the antithesis of the stereotypical man, who is arrogant and un-intouch with his emotional side. He said:

What if you played an ignorant guy who was actually curious? When someone used a big word like “vernacular,” he didn’t act like he knew it, but just stops the meeting like, “Question, what does that mean?”

Kottke then pointed out that author/artist/blogger Austin Kleon responded with this:

That last point might be the most important: care is a form of attention, and unlike talent or expertise, it can be willed into being at any time.

If you care more than everybody else, you pay better attention, and you see things that others don’t see. To ask the questions that need to be asked, you have to care more than others about what happens, but care less about what others might think of you in the moment.

Care in the form of attention.

Wow.

Sweaty cheeks.

Tina and I pride ourselves on questions asked and ears bent. And often wonder why the reciprocation is anomalous. But we treat each other that way, so it often satiates that need from others.

But adding the ability to pay attention. To devote the time to someone that instead of ignoring what you don’t understand, you get to the bottom of the issue and clarify.

Kottke opened up at the end of his post and described the feeling of loss from a recent friendship. He says he rewatched Ted Lasso to kind of search for a laugh in a sad moment, and he wrote this:

But what I especially noticed this time around was how much effort Coach Lasso puts into deciphering who people are, who they really are, so he can help each individual be their best selves, which is perhaps the hallmark of a wonderful partnership. It was a good reminder for me of attention as a form of love but also of the work I need to do to actually practice that consistently in my life.

Sometimes just hanging out, without entertaining conversations and unending noise is not the best form of attention. Sometimes it’s just hanging. Just being. Just holding a hand or sharing a space.

Yesterday, I found my cheeks sweating a lot. I watched with interest the committee hearing on the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Listening to those four police officers describe their experiences was a sweat-drenched workout.

I listened and watched the whole thing.

And I think these mens’ stories deserved to be heard and considered.

To hear and see the republican from Illinois speak from his standpoint, to see his sweaty cheeks, and to realize that he is the kind of man I respect. One who, in the face of his entire party’s adversity, is a beacon of vulnerable strength. He knows he’s going to be ridiculed by his own party, and yet he let himself feel his emotions through a heart-wrenching speech. His own party’s leadership flip-flopped on who should be held responsible.

This is politics. Back stabbing, injustice, bullshit politics.

There was a heaviness that followed me for the hours after the committee meeting adjourned. Later yesterday, we visited one of our family members who is terminally ill. And these cheeks barely dried up.

Then the droplets fell again when I took a look at FoxNews’ responses to these brave mens’ testimonies. These patriots fought to save the lives of all of our politicians, not just one side. They fought to uphold democracy and our human and country values. They were injured to protect people.

And Fox’s Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson mocked them. While I can’t imagine one person watching them and agreeing with them, because of their inhumanity, I can’t help but be proven wrong as well.

This is where we are as a country.

If our country is a brand new Rolls Royce, the view of the exterior is that it’s painted pink and purple. The interior is burnt out. A smoking heap of leather and ash.

I circulated over the different news sources yesterday and it wasn’t a surprise that Newsmax and Breitbart didn’t have one front page link to the live version of the committee hearing. But the response links hoping people would only watch the highlights mixed with propaganda that showed “peaceful” protests, that’s the money shot.

There’s more time devoted to demonizing two republicans on the committee than hearing them out.

We were in the car yesterday headed to our family’s house to celebrate the life of our dying family member, and I said to Tina, “This bullshit between parties is like when we argue for too long. We started a fight about X, but the fight escalates over Y. At some point, the argument is only about Y, which has nothing to do with X. We desperately need to call each other out for caring too much for the thing that we aren’t arguing about anymore, reset, forgive and move on.”

But that doesn’t sell advertising.

How are we not, as a whole, as a country united, turning off all this shit that divides us? How are we falling for siding with the Y argument and forgetting the X?

I get it. It’s much more entertaining to fight at times. It’s more validating to sit and watch Laura Ingraham hand out awards for men acting emotionally when you think that’s what men should act like. But goddamn, that’s an ugly way of being a man.

But but but but BLM and Antifa and the liberal riots of 2020!

Yes! I haven’t forgotten and neither have you! The violence is detestable and we should all rally that the people who brought violence to the protests should be brought to justice. Nobody disagrees!

Whataboutism is the lowest argument to bring to the table. We are talking about the events of January 6. Not the events of the summer of 2020. The conversation about that can be had. But can we concentrate on X, not Y?

I guess I’m just too woke. Or too liberal. Or two patriotic. Or not enough. Or too feminine. Or too biased. Or too prejudiced.

Or bigoted.

I don’t know. I’m all of the above. I’m too everything that apparently “the other side” finds abhorrent.

And to any of those people, I hope they take me up on a proposal to have a drink together. I could bring anyone dinner. Or I’d love to host that person at my home and cook for them.

We have no reason to be divided at the bar, or at the dinner table, or sitting face to face.

Down with any media, social or otherwise, that separates us.

Take me up on my offer. I’ll come to you. Let’s mend the madness into love. We deserve better. We are better than the medias. We can find compassion in the chaos. And that would be truly welcome.

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