Last Thursday, during the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Professional and Inspired Leaders of Tomorrow meeting, we had an icebreaker in which each person stated one true thing and one false thing about themselves.
The objective was to guess the fact.
Most people dug deep in their past and told others about the exciting things they’d done — or hadn’t done, if they were duping the group. I’ve had some overseas adventures and could tell some interesting stories, but whenever they put me on the spot (icebreakers are PILOT agenda fixtures), I get a deer in the headlights look and just stick with the present.
Skillfully, I might add!
My two statements were, “I enjoy relaxing after a long day of work by cooking for hours and preparing meals for a week. I love my cutting board!” and “I enjoy relaxing after a long day of work with dance: bachata, salsa and merengue!”
My strategy involved using a common introduction for both statements, which each coupled excitement for the topic — whether cooking or dancing — with jargon, to make either choice believable.
It worked. Most of the group guessed the second statement as true. (Granted, that may also have been because at least four Fred Astaire Dance Studio representatives were present, and three were guest speakers; so wishful thinking could have played a role.)
I recalled that icebreaker Monday night and wondered: How well do we know our neighbors?
In at least two or three editions of this column, I’ve spoken fondly of cooking and its economical and therapeutic benefits. Anyone at the PILOT meeting who read those columns would have known, or at least could have taken an informed guess, that the first statement was true.
No, I’m not chiding anyone for not reading this space in the newspaper religiously!
I’m just saying that if people listen closely to each other’s words, and monitor their body language, they will eventually learn what makes people tick.
That can make all the difference, especially in cases like Friday’s threat of an explosive device at Crestview High School.
Initial information suggested that a CHS student, who may have expressed suicidal thoughts, “may have been planning to bring some type of explosive device to the school,” the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page states.
Fortunately, authorities found no such device, but that didn’t calm countless parents who expressed their concerns on crestviewbulletin.com and our Facebook page.
I don’t know the teenager involved with this incident, and would never use the paper to psychoanalyze somebody. However, since the OCSO stated that the teen could have had suicidal thoughts, it would be comforting if north Okaloosa residents look at this incident and wonder, “Can I get to know my neighbors (classmates, co-workers, fellow church members and mere acquaintances) better?”
Imagine how a good-faith effort could make all the difference.
If you see your neighbor crying or upset at the mailbox, don’t just shout, “Everything OK?” Approach him or her, be sincere, and invite them to talk — and mean it.
Kids, if you see a classmate eating lunch alone in the bathroom, don’t just suggest, insist that you two share a meal together in the cafeteria.
Professionals, if a coworker seems tense or irritable, ask them how their day is going, crack some jokes and start a conversation.
We can cry privacy rights or we could accept the friendly gesture. Communities grow closer when everyone knows each other and can trust each other — or least when everyone knows they have a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear if they need it.
If everyone in north Okaloosa did this, each day, it’s hard to believe anyone would have such low self-esteem and destructive ideas.
Ryan Massengill, a talented Crestview resident who will soon contribute editorial cartoons for the News Bulletin, needed a topic to sketch for today’s edition since the federal government’s re-opening undermined already-sketched content for his intended debut.
Friday, when there still wasn’t much confirmed information on the CHS incident, I suggested a cartoon with a faceless, gender-neutral CHS student contemplating bringing an explosive device to school, but instead choosing to play “Grand Theft Auto” because “This way, no one actually gets hurt.”
I’m no video-game buff, but understand this is one of gamers’ top choices. And if you have to pick between fantasy violence and real violence, going with the fake option seemed reasonable.
And I’m no editorial cartoonist, and typically wouldn’t present such a fleshed out idea, but we needed to kick ideas around if we were going to have something in time for today’s edition.
It’s good that Ryan’s sketches can’t begin rolling until next week, due to various other factors, because I realized I was wrong.
People don’t need more isolation; they need more imposition. At least, they need what today’s all-about-me society — the one that would rather stay holed up in the house playing videogames, surfing the web or otherwise avoid going out of their way for others — would consider being imposed or treaded on.
They need community members to butt lovingly in on their business, as small-town residents do; to engage them in conversation; cheer them up; praise their accomplishments; and push them to become more active in the community.
That could make all the difference.