Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sometimes it all gets to be just too much!

O.k., Let's get personal. This is a blog after all. I should indulge once in a while, right? Right. Bear with me.

I have been in something of a funk this week. Maybe you can relate. Sometimes the downside of actively seeking to be informed, is you find out things that just rattle your foundations, or the small incremental bits and pieces seem to congeal into a rapidly encroaching toxic oil slick that threatens to engulf you in the muck of humanity. I know, overly dramatic, but sometimes life is just too much, and you want to retreat to your comfy, safe place and just read romance novels at every spare opportunity, where the world has predictable outcomes, Love always wins out, and people have fabulous, soul liberating sex, without apparent worry about the sticky bits (I know, tmi, sorry).

This has been the place I have been in this past week. I have followed the news as usual, and a post is soon to come to bring you up to speed, but I just really, no joke, wanted to read romance novels all week, and virtually did in fact. I just really didn't want to share the news of the day, complicated as it ever is, whatsoever. Life on earth this week felt, well, just too sticky! I longed for predictable and benign outcomes, reasonable forces and Love to win out, and the soul liberating triumph of all the things that are good in humanity.

Maybe it's a question of perspective? Am I truly a "whiner" when I start to get that sick, butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach, when I do the odious money math, and war with that ever present doubt about having made the life choices I have made? It's hard to feel full of certainty, when you've just filled an empty fuel tank these days. But, I don't think my dwindling bank account is a figment of my imagination, much as I would like it to be. And I feel some righteous indignation that I didn't entirely get myself into this pickle all on my own. If anything, globalization as taught me that our individual actions, or inaction, have ripples around the world. And, right about now I'm looking for a Wall Street oil speculator, Arab prince driving a ridiculously diamond encrusted Mercedes, or maybe a politician, or two, or a hundred, to get my hands around their necks and squeeze, while exhorting them to, pardon the phrase, "stop screwing with me!" My perspective is that, all whining aside, being a hopeful and optimistic individual is requiring me to dig deeper than a lot of oil wells to find some precious resources to sustain me through these difficult times.

I feel it would be prosaic to say that looking at my just about perfect child, or drawing on my faith erases it all away. Some days, yes, I feel the full measure of my good fortune and blessings, and I feel that I really have no place to complain, especially in view of the news of the day. But some days, or weeks, I'm just overwhelmed by the challenges of life, and the fragility of what separates my life from, say, the refugee in Darfur. And when that juxtaposition enters my mind, I automatically recoil, because the circumstances are just so different and stark, it feels just horrendously indulgent and ridiculous to even equate our conditions in life.

But, interestingly, despite my suspicion of abject hubris to follow this line of reasoning, nevertheless there was the tiniest kernel of a common experience that resonated for me. I listened to a Darfur refugee who had lost just about everything, and he recounted that what they had endured was just so much that they could not really stop to consider the scope, or even to fully account for what had become of whom. Sometimes to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, they just had to immerse themselves in the small bits and pieces of daily life, and not constantly consider the bigger picture of what was happening. So much of what this person endures is completely unfathomable to me, but this, this, I understand!

I think that this is why so many people choose to not fully pay attention to the news. It all feels to be so much, and the self sustaining instinct kicks in to keep your mind immersed in your own little corner of the world, where maybe things are little more within the realm of your control, or the self-willed illusion of such. Crack open that romance novel, pack your kids school lunches for the day, and maybe indulge in a marathon of "The Housewives of some incredibly privileged, and completely clueless American material mecca."

The lessons of my college years return constantly in times like these, and I look back to the life altering course in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that I was fortunate to experience, which seemed to impart the wisdom that so much of life really comes down to a question of balance. A lot in the world acts upon us, but we also act. We bear the responsibility to use our agency wherever we may find ourselves to actively value the blessings we are given, and use the tools at our disposal to fulfill that inner mandate that craves a place where Life and Love prevails. Therefore, I will continue to look into places that make me want to head for the covers in a secure bed, and enjoy what happens between the covers of a completely trivial book now and then, because both inform and sustain this condition called Life.

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