Walt Whitman wrote,
"Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes."
Somewhere between Whitman and 2016, cool has changed. What used to be synonymous with composed, somehow morphed into an aloofness, a guarded coolness of the special few.
We are not in a very cool moment in history. It's uncomfortable out there. And, despite what Instagram looks like, it's uncomfortable in here, too. And yet, there is this feeling I get—from looking around at social media and simple interactions with other humans and looking at myself in the mirror—that we are all, in fact, trying to look cool.
The definition of cool right now looks something like: unattainable, unreachable, out of your league, way too good for you. The modern definition of cool is a Mean-Girls-You-Can't-Sit-With-Us hyper awareness of all things inconsequential that are seemingly everything because we just can't even.
Today's cool cares about the number of followers and the lighting. Cool now means exposing and engaging as tools to make profit or feel popular. Cool today means a faux-vulnerability that never challenges us enough for us to ask the question "Did I just say too much?"
Today's cool is a game we all play; I most certainly do. Even in situations where I don't want or need approval, if someone's approval makes me feel cool—hell yes, I'll go after it. I light myself when taking a selfie. I care about the unfollows and the follows in equal measure. I get into my head about it.
But, there is so much more going on in the world to get in our heads about. And, I think there is a cooler way to think about being cool.
If we go back to Walt Whitman's call to cooldom, it has much more to do with an unshakability, a groundedness. It has to do with looking magnificence right in the eye and meeting it. In fact, it's talking about absolute attainment and without a doubt connection. Cool is a quiet steadiness from which we can reach out and through the world, bringing love and wholeness to it.
We're staying cool when we're keeping our eyes peeled to the news between the lines of the news.
We're staying cool when we're reaching out to someone who might need some extra love.
We're staying cool when we give back to our community.
We're staying cool when we tell the truth, even if that means a couple unfollows.
We're staying cool when we say, yeah, you can always sit with us. Actually, can we sit with you?
We're staying cool when we pop off the boundaries and open our own borders.
We're staying cool when we stay honest with ourselves in the quiet, alone moments.
We're staying cool when we keep our word.
We're staying cool when we earn others' trust.
We're staying cool when we're willing to make ourselves look silly in order to learn or to serve.
We're staying cool when we take an artistic or emotional risk.
We're staying cool when we align the inner and the outer.
We're staying cool when we hold all the parts of ourselves without compartmentalizing to make our jobs or life paths easier for others to understand.
We're staying cool when we stay true.
We're staying cool when we stay weird.
We're staying cool when we stay loving.
This kind of cool is most necessary. This kind of coolness means we have the ability to stay in the game longer. We're not worried about how we look, because we're peeling our eyes open to see how we can help.
So I'm going on a mission of allowing myself to be the weird, outsider version of me that I usually feel. To dig in deep to the causes and people and ideas that I love. And to meet what's ahead in 2017 with a coolness that's anything but cold. You in?