Dear FriendsLate evening tv has been a smorgasbord of murder, mental illness, violence, missing persons, rape and racial tension. I'm sure there was other stuff in there too but these issues are important to us all as they involve people that are like people we know. The stories jump out at us and remain close to our hearts, perhaps giving us cause to fear for our own safety or the safety of loved ones. We can feel as if the security of our quiet lives is under threat. We are wired to hear those threatening stories and to respond with the flight or fight 'mechanism'. Once upon a primal swamp, that was essential to our survival. I'm sitting here with heavy heart, imagining the grief of a mother bereaved of her young son and her husband in the same tragic incident. Every mother's heart will feel the tightening that measures a fear we all live with; that we might lose a child. I've heard it said that being a parent is the bravest thing you'll ever choose to do because in that act you agree to have your heart living outside your own body. Your heart travels everywhere with your children.
As I sat here feeling the weight of the sorrow from these reports, I made a conscious shift of mind to think about all the things that didn't make the news today. They wouldn't sell papers or current affairs advertising time but they are the stuff of life. The real stuff. Today, even in the small town where I live, hundreds of people woke up this morning and enjoyed a shower and a nourishing breakfast before heading to work or school. Hundreds of families chattered away together as they went through the busy morning routines finding clothes and shoes and homework. Husbands and wives, friends and lovers, children and families and friends went through their everyday tasks without a second thought. They smiled at each other and hugged each other, told jokes, patted the dog or washed the car and enjoyed the gleam that rewarded their hard work. They wrote letters and sent birthday, wedding, engagement, get well soon, sympathy and Valentine's cards. They mowed the lawn and weeded the garden or took a walk and found images of rabbits in the clouds. They went for a drive and stopped at a country cafe for coffee and apple danish. They browsed antique stores or shopped in supermarkets for food. They bought new shoes or cleaned out wardrobes and donated un-needed items to charity.
They made decisions to make some one else's life better; they started to support a child through a charity or registered to donate time to visit the aged or infirm. They volunteered in animal shelters and homeless shelters and soup kitchens. They touched the untouchable and reached the unreachable by doing what they do with love and sincerity and no need to be thanked or rewarded. They flew planes or traveled as passengers to far shores to learn about this vast global community. They spent time in new places and new cultures with new faces and foods and smells and sounds. They made their lives richer and will bring home new understandings and interests to share with friends and family. They read books and watched documentaries or soapies on tv. They worked and they relaxed and took pleasure from having time to take stock of life. They had thoughts and read comics and poems and looked at paintings and thought about how marvellous it can be to express oneself through art. They played music and danced behind closed curtains in case someone should see and think them mad...but they were joyful and free and happy for that time. They took children to school and collected them at home time. They sewed quilts and played football and made bets on the horses or the dogs. Some won. They learned to send an email or enroled for university courses in middle or old age...or right out of high school. They shaved legs and tweezed eye brows and put on moisturiser. They looked in the mirror and put on their best face for the world they were going out to meet. They lived their lives in the best way they could. No one will ever take much notice, but so many people do so many GOOD even GREAT things every single day. Hats off to us all for making the very best of life that we can.
We get a lot of news these days unless we make a choice to avoid it, and I have spent long periods of my life doing just that. The news, whilst it can be viewed as important, carries such a skewed view of the world as it really is. News is shaped and presented in the way that ensures the greatest sales of advertising or that furthers the political stance of the station owners. I was fortunate enough to be at an event many years ago; a fire walking ceremony on a beach on Magnetic Island off Townsville. The news teams were there recording the event and I watched it later on tv. I have to tell you that the tv coverage of the event was nothing like being there. It was as if they'd been at another event altogether. It has made me wary of news reports.
I guess I'm just trying to say that whilst it's not healthy to pretend that nothing bad ever happens or that other people are not suffering, it's probably going to be good for your health to think about how much is going along quite nicely in your home, your town, your county or country. Fight that impulse to notice and focus on the scary, the threatening and the 'negative' aspects of life and the news. Do what you can to help others. Be kind. Spend at least an equal amount of time devoting your thinking to what might be good and right and happy and lovely. What you think about...you will find.
Wishing you a life that is interesting and full and rich. Wishing you the strength and wisdom to grow through the difficult times. Wishing you friends and family to love and support you through times of grief and loss. Wishing you compassion to help others when you can. Wishing you the ability to see what is good in the world, and to contribute towards it too. Most of all wishing and hoping that the sad and terrible events of life remain as the exception to the rule for most of us, and that we can together build a better and happier world for the children yet to come. Thank you.