This is a complicated holiday season. The glitter, the shopping and the decorating can feel imposed by the calendar, out of sync with our daily headlines of war, hate, bombings, shootings, election results and humanitarian concerns.
The tendency to feel overwhelmed by all the darkness in the world can easily let the air out of our sense of personal well-being. It can suck the air out of conversations. It can lead to isolation and depression. Many I know seem compelled to relive the results of our November election, looking to place blame, as if that somehow could change the outcome. I don’t have all the answers, nor do the pundits, as far as I can tell. Maybe history will inform us. It’s the same in trying to understand how the world has stood by watching the suffering in Syria.
I do sense that all the toxicity is becoming toxic in itself. It can lead to an obsession with “news” and with social media. It’s not far downhill to pessimism and cynicism. There is a steep personal cost in holding on to the disappointment and rage.
This morning, when I opened Facebook, I was greeted by a photo of myself taken a few years ago, dancing with my youngest granddaughter. My heart melted. I thought THIS is the kind of thing that I need to keep in front of me. I was tuned into NPR. Randomly, the program I “needed ” to hear turned out to be a compelling discussion on KQED’s Forum about The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
Both men, coming from very different traditions, despite their incredibly difficult journeys, kept stressing the goodness of humanity. After finding myself so moved by the photo I saw this morning, I immediately agreed.
At the risk of sounding like a Rogers and Hammerstein play,
Think mother and family love, the bonds of friendship, the arts, nurses, doctors, teachers, the White Hats in Syria, philanthropy. If this isn’t enough, bring home the most beautiful flower you can find and place it in a vase where you’ll be able to appreciate it, watch a snowfall, find a friend who makes you laugh so hard you cry, watch the clouds change color at dusk, bake cookies and distribute them after eating several, surprise a long lost friend with a phone call, play with a puppy…well you get my gist.
If none of that helps, you have my permission to indulge in your drink or drug of choice and have a long cry in your beer.