Sunday, February 28, 2010

Antedoct to Constant Bad News

Yet another sad happening in the world of 24 hours a day news.

There have always been horrible things happen in the world for centuries but cameras did not record every event. It took 6 months for news to reach MD from England in the 1600's. Plagues wiped out huge amounts of people....ships were lost at sea carrying those trying for a better life. But at least all the ridiculous talk of Tiger Woods has gone away for a bit.

Here is something I found and is really quite lovely.

It has been difficult, this past month, watching from afar the unfolding of a tremendous island earthquake. Compounding the daily witness of human suffering is the Life-Is-Just-A-House-Of-Cards feeling evoked by the rubble mountains that once formed the nation of Haiti. Yet, even as we struggle to process emotionally the images and aftermath from Haiti, round-the-clock TV reporters are quick to turn our attention to other troubled nations - including our own.

With what seems like ever increasing doses of bad news - and the prevalence of pocket-sized devices to deliver such news live from every corner of the Earth - I have to wonder whether the human nervous system and our emotional resiliency can really be stretched that far. Will a global culture so prone to epic traumas render us all jaded and uncaring? Will disaster fatigue begin to set in?

The pendulum could swing this way. Or we could further develop that over which we do have absolute control: the internal affairs of our mindset.

Certainly the first, and most natural, reflexive reaction to human distress is compassion. Lending a helping hand benefits both the giver and the receiver. In the interim, I think sustaining a sense of rational optimism can be as simple as cultivating appreciation for the everyday blessings that nourish and fortify the unshakable soul.

I remind myself to do this with the motto, "Make it all count." As a corollary to the wise old saw "count your blessings," this motto goes beyond merely adding it all up. Rather, it implies appreciating the "significance" of each blessing - even those well disguised.

Imagine living a life in which every little thing you experience truly matters: every word, idea, dollar and deed; every minute spent on children and family; every wink of sleep and good morning hug; every accomplishment and accolade (however modest); every not-so-modest failure - and all the freakish coincidences that rescue us from our failures.

Every childhood passion and idle daydream; every slow walk with a best friend and hurried rush to meet a new life goal; every display of affection and heart-warming act of kindness, given or received.

Every deeply felt inspiration, inhalation and relaxation.

And don't forget to count the everyday events of nature that offer beauty, solace and a welcome measure of stability and permanence: Pause to watch sunsets that disappear behind clouds of color, attune your ears to the uplifting melodies of birds, be dazzled by every mind-bending rainbow and rest your thoughts in the perfect stillness of the ocean's rhythm and roar.

We can't tune out the big defining moments or the history-making events around the world (nor should we), but how often do we ignore the infinite goodness delivered in tiny packages right at our doorstep every day? If the tragedies of war and nature teach us anything, it's that life is fleeting and that even basic human needs such as air, food and water are more gifts than givens.

To me, the true antidote to life's unpredictability is to assign value and intention to every moment that flies by: Yearn for every ounce of sweetness those moments will carry away forever if we don't reach out and embrace the experience with mindful appreciation.

Like a mobile of human emotions hanging from a string in perfect balance, let the collective weight of everyday wonders and treasured moments act as a counterbalance to the periodic tragedies that test human limits and bedevil our peace of mind. The sheer scope and inevitable recurrence of worrisome events will weigh us down and tune us out if we don't vigilantly strive to keep it all in balance.

If ever there were a New Year's resolution not to be abandoned, this one may be it: Count every blessing and make every blessing count.

Michelle Morton is a writer and book publisher who specializes in topics about fine art, science and social justice.

No comments: