Anyone paying serious attention to the news is likely to be calculating the shortest distance to the nearest bridge. You’ve got weather phenomena that are flooding, scorching, or rearranging the planet. You’ve got a human disaster unfolding in Africa; a financial crisis brewing in America, boiling over in Europe; and corruption and war in too many places to count.
Much closer to home you may be dealing with unemployment, crippling debt, ill health, or family breakup. The car won’t start, the dog has fleas. Everywhere you turn there is decay and disintegration: things rusting, rotting, and becoming obsolete, and goods in need of refurbishing, updating, or replacement. There is no stasis. No rest for the wicked. The weeds are encroaching. The march of time is relentless and unforgiving.
That’s why it is an act of self-preservation to look beyond the broadcasts, the fearmongers, the bank balance, and the mirror to find miracles and hope and blessed moments of joy and distraction.
That’s why it is important to go to those events where family gathers. To hold a week-old baby and touch his unbelievably soft and perfect skin before eczema, mosquito bites, baby acne, and his first scrape do their damage. To sit with the 80-year-old aunt and hear her talk about her latest project, overseeing a home remodel. To hear a 25-year-old talk about her new man and listen to hear explain how She’s so much more discerning now in the qualities she looks for.
It’s important to bring flowers into our homes, to use the good dishes, to slather lotion on thirsty skin; these small acts remind us that little things matter. And we can also write a cheque to a charity, do a favour, and say a kind word; these small acts of giving help us as much as or more than the recipient of the kindness. We can take a moment to snap photos of four bull moose on the road in front of our house. And talk about them so others can picture the image and share in our delight.
Dreaming about and planning a kitchen redo is an act of faith. The messages are many: I can afford this; I will live long enough to enjoy it; it will make my life easier, my home more valuable; it will be an act of maintenance and modernization. Picturing the Norman Rockwell-esque family gatherings and visits with friends in the new space is the happy result.
We can seek escape from the daily grind in simple pleasures: a favourite author, a new (or classic) movie, a day of window-shopping. We can play hockey in a hallway with a two-year-old?and delight in the promise and potential of this young life.
I know some people who don’t read the paper or watch the news because they say It’s too depressing. I do both religiously, because it reminds me that without darkness there is no light. I can’t notice and savour the goodness if I’ve insulated myself from its opposite, from where I sit.