Terrible Things

“There were many terrible things in my life, but most of them never happened.” — Montaigne

And so it goes for most of us in this wildly unsettling phase we struggle through these days. Lots to worry about, eh? Shouting and screaming from all sides at once, it seems, almost around the clock, telling us how to feel and what to do and — oh, no! Don’t do THAT!!

Whatever THAT is, eh? Ya know?

Everyone seems to have their own version of what we should all be doing these days. The wisdom changes pretty rapidly, it seems, and chaos is one of the few constants. So let’s try and kick back for a minute or two and consider what appears to be going on.

One: It looks like this coronavirus monster is going to be with us for some time to come.

Hopefully I am wrong about that and it disappears (as some have promised) very soon now. Maybe tomorrow? We all hope so, obviously. But ain’t likely. The hot weather of summer has had zero effect, tragically.

Meantime, some good news has presented with New York City reporting no deaths from the virus for the first time in months. Therefore the steps taken in NYC are effective — masks, social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, common sense. The rest of us can take a lesson there, you think?

Two: The economy is almost at full stop and has been for weeks now. Not likely to change a lot for some time, maybe Christmas. If so a massive number of the businesses functioning in 2019 will be gone forever. That is truly sad, right up there with the thousands and thousands of poor souls who lost their lives to the wretched virus. Maybe I am making too much of the business loss here. I know it can not compare to losing a loved one, so forgive me if that’s out of line.

Three: Our political discussion has become toxic. No longer can we just have a civil disagreement. No, baby, the other side (whoever that is) is WRONG and need to be punished for its stupidity. Yes! And punished right NOW!

Truly a shame and a loss to us all. We are Americans and we love to argue. The high side of the arguing is we can actually learn something now and then if we only listen to each other. Let the other side make their case. Think about it. And then state your side. Sure.

Not happening now, pal. Everyone is angry all the time, it seems.

Likely even you and I are ticked off more — and more often — than we want to admit. (And we’re absolute sweethearts, aren’t we??)  I hate feeling like that. And it’s weird to me that some people seem to LIKE it! They appear to enjoy being upset and yelling at the other side in any discussion.

Everyone gets upset now and then, everyone gets their knickers in a knot about some perceived offense once in a while. It happens. But surely not at this level of intensity and frequency. Lordy, I hope not. Is this the New Normal I keep hearing about?

One small suggestion: Let us consider the amazingly effective friction-reducing method pioneered in a troubled Boston elementary school.

It seems to oversimplify some very complex problems. It’s just Meditation. But it sure appears to work. Yeah. Rather than punishment for unruly behavior — just go to the Mindfulness Room and meditate, kid. Boom! Great success on every level.

I know in my own experience that my allergies calm down and my stress levels almost disappear when I take twenty minutes to focus inward and relax. I do believe if we all pushed this on ourselves and meditated maybe fifteen or twenty minutes once or twice a day, a LOT of our troubles would fade away. Not likely to happen, I know. But I sure hope it does. We could all use some quiet time right about now.

(Here is how to do it, if you are a rookie. My version is a variant on Transcendental Meditation, in which you repeat a calming word gently within yourself as you sit or lie in a safe, quiet space. No need to say it out loud. Use the word ONE to start, with each breath in and then each breath out, stretching out the word in your head to fit the breath in, then the breath out. Hard to stay on course, yes, but if you do, soon you will enter a different level of consciousness and a more profound relaxation than you ever thought possible.)