A friend and I were talking the other night. We were chatting away and he starts commenting on current events. One is the COVID vaccine and the other a recent mass murder in a grocery store in Colorado. Did I see this on the news? Was I aware of what was happening? What are my thoughts? Why was I not better informed??? This is not the first person who has become a tad frustrated with me as I appear pretty out of the loop of current events.
To be honest, I don’t watch the national news. I watch the local news every morning in a repeat of the earlier broadcast. I get up too late now to see the original airing, so I let the rerun play while I start my day. Local for me is four hours away, but this is all I have for my region and geographic area. The weather is helpful, though mostly irrelevant, and the politics disturbing as I live in a very conservative place. I also spend a good deal of time on social media and catch “news” there, being mindful of the difference between the bullshit and something that is a credible and legitimate story. I get alerts on my phone from the Associated Press, BBC and NPR as another way to stay somewhat abreast of current events. Though, I have to admit, when Kim Kardashian files for divorce from Kenya West (or whomever) I do not believe for one moment that is news or worthy of my time, let alone an actual alert on my phone. We can do better.
My buddy is all on fire about recent events and is somewhat frustrated with my lackadaisical approach. I should know, I should read, I should be informed. I diverted the conversation with comments about receiving my voter registration card in the mail. I can again vote! I lost my right to vote when I hit the road and my address was a mail box. I think that is complete and total bullshit, but it is currently how our country operates. One must have a residential address to vote. I understand that necessity with local elections, but a national election should be open to ANY citizen with a valid ID. Oh, and we need national library cards and gun permits, as well as nationally regulated gas prices. I digress…
The conversation ended, as it was my bed time, but clearly these thoughts did not as I type these words early the next morning. Here is the thing with me and the news. I simply cannot handle it. I cannot live in a world where I send my child to school and s/he never comes back or I go to the movies or the store or the mall and am murdered. I cannot wrap my head around the genocide, torture, rape, murder, imprisonment, abuse that is happening right now somewhere in the world. Girls are being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves, journalists are being imprisoned for telling the truth, boys are being taken from their homes to fight in gorilla armies, our elderly are being abused by their caregivers. I mean, really, the list goes on and on of the atrocities committed each and ever moment of each and every day and quite frankly, I CANNOT HANDLE IT! The feeling of being so fucking helpless while others are suffering and going without and in pain is more than I can bear. So, I minimize my exposure to the news.
I have always been sensitive and felt things differently than most. My sister calls me “sensory” and she is right. When I was younger and kids got into a fight, I would run away and cry. I could not handle watching two people hurt each other for no reason. I can feel someone’s energy as soon as they walk into the room. It even effects how I live and eat. I cannot handle some foods due to their texture. Just the thought of a wooden spoon in my mouth gives me chills. My home is filled with things that are scented. I don’t like bright lights when it is dark. I often sit in my house with only candles glowing and my blinds are always open so that I can bring in any outside light.
All this news and all these senseless acts get to me. I feel them and react to them. I also feel helpless and frustrated. So, what can I do? Hiding out and ignoring it all is not the best answer. I can and will vote. That is important to me. I can be somewhat informed and work to correct misinformation when I see or hear it. I can spread love and caring with a kind word, a warm welcome or by providing helpful information. I can be small yet impactful in my response. I can take this global feeling of helpfulness and vulnerability and turn it into a very real and localized act of kindness or assistance or guidance. I can work in and around my world to do better and make a difference.
I can also be mindful of my own capacity. I am an introvert and I move in and around the world in a very nonsensical and purposeful way. When on task, I am efficient and focused. These traits and characteristics are often mistaken as rude, gruff or uncaring. That is not generally the case, though there are people who just rub me wrong and who I try to avoid. Overall, I work to be pleasant and polite, while getting to the business at hand. I enjoy short interactions but limit small talk. I am aware that my emotional gas tank is smaller than most and I refill with alone time, adventure days, nature, quiet, hiking and working out. I like to cook and watch movies and talk with friends. I can usually tell when my tank is getting empty and I take the steps to refill.
The news drains my tank. The stories of senseless and needless and unnecessary violence and pain and hurt drain me. Knowing that bad things are happening each and every moment of each and every day overwhelm me. I mean down to my soul. I mean I feel hurt and loss and rage and disgust. It effects me in real time.
In the end, I keep my world small on purpose. I filter my exposures and my emotions. I pray and I reflect and read and listen. I also celebrate God and nature. I try to spread good by being helpful and polite and kind and welcoming. I try not to live in fear and or ignorance, and I try to know and learn and do better. I keep my world small so that I can function in it. I keep my world small so that I can make a tangible difference in some way to some person so that maybe it will spread, so that maybe that person will do a kind thing or help someone else and so that maybe that other person will do the same and so on and so on.
We live in a world that is fucked up with violence and hate and rage where terrible things happen every moment of every day. I want to live in a world devoid of these things. I keep my world small so that I can manage, I can function, so that I can make a difference. I keep my work small so that I can live in it.
If you are reading this you have the power and ability to work against the bad. I wish for you to give in one way today. Just one thing in one way to help combat all the bad. You can do this and so can I. Just one thing in one moment in one small way.
Let’s be the good in the world by doing or saying or sharing that one thing right now.