When I was in my early 20s, I took a current events class in college. I was already interested in news, but I found reading certain sections left me feeling extremely sad, angry or bored. Nevertheless, I persisted and tried to memorize the day’s news before the afternoon class and the habit continued.
In 2017, I stopped reading the news due to reasons I don’t need to explain to some of you. Despite all the horrible things going on in the country and the world that year, it was still painful ending my years long relationship with the news. NPR had become a soothing voice on the radio for me in my late 20s. A relic in and of itself at a time where there were more podcasts than jelly bean flavors.
And it’s not like I could avoid news altogether. There were still shootings, fires, refugee crises, the me too movement, tiki torches, hurricanes, etc. But things had changed. There seemed, to me at least, to be more fighting. Fighting can be a good thing. You fight for your rights, you fight to be seen, to be heard, to be treated equally. Unfortunately, when you fight, you can also lose. And it seemed like we were doing a lot of losing.
Among the many human rights issues on the table, the fight happening at our southern border where families were being separated and people treated without dignity was incredibly hard for me.
There were times when I couldn’t see the beauty around me or feel the good in the world. Everything seemed bleak and there was a menacing feeling in the air like you were just waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. It also felt kind of inappropriate to feel good. Who am I to smell the roses when, as Kourtney puts it, “there’s people that are dying.”
The pandemic didn’t exactly lighten the mood and it brought the mayhem much closer to home. How can I be joyful when people close to me are suffering so much? I have a number of friends who are teachers who had to deal with some of the saddest things I can imagine. I had friends who lost close family members and friends. Honestly, every single one of us lost something these past couple of years tangible or not.
And despite a certain ominous presence’s removal, advances made by science to protect us, and the ability to get alcohol delivered to your door, it doesn’t feel like much has changed.
I have started listening to the news again. Mainly as a way to stay off of social media. And I’m making a real effort to try to be grateful and appreciate things. I’ve decided not looking at the bright side is like never looking out your window because someone else doesn’t have one. Maybe we need to look so we can describe what we see to others. Maybe that’s how we can connect and inspire and give hope.
Things will never be “good.” Things are good and things are also bad and most of the time things are so so. We can’t avoid bad times and it would be a disservice to ourselves to never have any negative feelings because without them we wouldn’t be able to experience the good feelings. Everything would just be bland.
So try to look out the window today, smell a flower, laugh at something, and enjoy the small good thing because the future is uncertain as we float along on this giant rock in an ever-expanding black void and what have you got to lose?