Indeed, these days it seems hard to stay calm and focused. 2020 seems to develop into what the Queen of England would call an annus horribilis (i.e. a horrible year). Not even considering political sensitivities, I guess we all agree that we are not happy about a devastating pandemic and its immediate consequences. And we are not happy about the violence that seems to have been unleashed in the aftermath of the murder of a defenseless black man by persons who are supposed to be on the right side of the law, some police. Contemplating all these things can make one depressive and aggravated and hopeless.
It is hard to find a topic these days that doesn’t make one look mindless if it doesn’t touch on what’s going on out there. And on the other hand, we all crave something that takes our minds off the constantly appearing, increasingly worse news. A friend of mine said just the other day that she envies the astronauts who were able to leave the planet with the latest manned rocket launch. I guess that helped me. For my first thought was “No”.
If I switch off the news and contemplate my immediate existence – do I really find everything so devastating? Am I not surrounded by caring, mindful people? Shouldn’t I count my blessings and go from there?
Resilience is something you can learn. I actually took a week-long class about it a few years ago. It showed me how to focus on the good stuff that happens in my life. It makes me analyze why something makes me happy and whether I can make this happiness last or even repeat itself. It makes me reconsider the state of something that seems to be bad – maybe there is something I can learn from it. Maybe, though I don’t like it, it is still of some value.
Think of dandelions. Nobody likes them in a garden bed or in a tidy lawn. But in a colorful meadow – oh yes! And they feed pollinators, which in turn secures our food that relies on pollination. And don’t we somehow admire those little guys that make it through cracks in the asphalt and defy all plans to make our world gray and concrete?
Shelter-in-place might be going on a while yet where I live. It might return if there is another wave of the pandemic. I have never published as much in so little time as this year. I’m blessed with my best buddy as my husband and with friends who are of the same mindset: that we need to keep each other and others safe. I’m becoming more resourceful in everyday challenges.
The riots out there – and hopefully, by the time you get to read this, they are under control and/or over – make me contemplate the value of a human life. Each one is unique in its best sense. In our little street, my husband and I are the only white persons. We neighbors look out for each other. We share food with each other. Do I ever consider what color they are? They are friends! They are warm-hearted human beings with the same worries I have. Maybe, because of their ethnicity sometimes worse.
Indeed, in dire times we learn who our friends are. We learn to count our blessings. And in a way we all still hope even if we feel hopeless at the moment. As we can’t turn back the clock and undo all that went wrong, we already look into the future and talk about “when it’s over”. When there will be vaccinations available. When we can do what we love to do unimpeded again. When …
My biggest hope is that mindfulness will prevail. That the people who society’s prejudices keep in a corner of discrimination will finally get justice, not just through law but through consideration. It takes all kinds of people to make a world. It would be a very uniform world if everybody were the same. A smile that reaches one’s eyes is visible even above a mask. I find myself smiling at strangers in public places way more often these days. Come to think of it, a smiling mouth is curved like a rainbow. And rainbows are a sign of hope.
Geez, never saw you this down and/or pessimistic, Susanne. Can’t blame you, however. But nothing is truer than what the good book says: this too shall pass. So take heart.
Remember the old German proverb (good grief, these Germans have a proverb for everything):
“ Von der Wiege bis zur Bahre
Sind die schönsten Lebensjahre “.
“ From the cradle to your grave
Are the best years of your life. “
And now I have to go and practice the absolute foolproof method NOT to touch your face: have a glass of wine in each hand. Tschüß.
Susanne Bacon says
Very obviously you don’t get the gist of my article, Dieter. This is certainly neither pessimistic or down. If it were, I wouldn’t have put it into my column, which always has the purpose to uplift. Maybe you read it once more?!
Joseph Boyle says
Dieter and I see two different things. When I read your article I did not see you “this down and/or pessimistic”. I see you as realistic and optimistic.
Two guys. Two views. Perhaps it is all in the eye of the beholder.
Susanne Bacon says
Thank you, Joe. Yes, obviously you see what I’m onto …
Very true, Joe. Very true.
I didn’t think the article was a downer at all. Besides, you are very seldom down anyway! Everybody needs to see the glass half full……..this too, shall pass.
Susanne Bacon says
Thank you, Nan, glad you see it that way, too. Indeed, this shall pass, and I hope we will all have gained something good through our current experiences.