Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

Mae West


The world is full of sensitive people. Full of well meaning people, and sometimes not so well meaning, who try to model the right way to live, but very often they are surprised and shocked by what they see. They are surprised by the tug of war of human nature.

If you are shocked at what you see perhaps you should be shocked more often. Perhaps you are living too comfortably, too contently, too cleanly, or perhaps after after all this time and all these laps of time, you have not really learned what it is to to be alive at all.

So if the smell and the unpleasant state of a homeless man and woman troubles or revolts you, perhaps you have never known poverty or tasted a person’s need to truly forget something. If you’re offended by people’s marital affairs and think the world is dirty, perhaps you don’t know enough about lacking self worth, or the terrible pangs of loneliness and numbness.

If you are easily shocked at your own behaviour or the behaviour of others, perhaps that means that you do a lot more watching and you should be doing a lot more living.

That homeless man’s name is John. He is a war veteran. He has done things for freedom and country he wants to forget. He is tired of being called a hero. He is tired of hearing that he did great things. He only desires to be human. He only desires to forget and be better. He doesn’t know the next step or what he should do next. There are no manuals or resources to sink your mind into. And that woman who your neighbour is banging on the side, her name is Francesca. She is a dutiful mother of three grown children, her husband prefers the company of books at his accounting firm, and has distanced himself so far away from her, that the house feels empty and cold. She didn’t intend to have a marital affair, but she didn’t imagine how cold and distant the love of her life would become after twenty five years either.

Don’t worry if you are easily shocked. Ok, worry just a little bit. Worry that your heart is not big enough, your mind doesn’t know enough, and that you still have a long way to go. A long way to go before you will be present and amerced in life, instead of absent and running through the motions.

None of this has anything to do with morals or ethics. It has everything to do with shock, perhaps your sock in how you see the world. Put your advice giving instincts away for a moment, hit pause on your need to put people into neat little moral or immoral categories. Forget about being a model of something and take a moment just to understand. Try to examine and understand someone or something without question, without the need to correct, without the need to give advice and fix, to make better, and to change.

Think only about why you are shocked. Think about what shocks you and ask if you’ve been exposed to enough of something so that some of the shock naturally goes away.