When will the world stop feeling like too much to handle?
When will I awake without thinking about a dreadful question, I wonder what new and terrible thing will happen today?
The news cycle is redundant. Crisis, war, rage, hatred, violence, murder are on repeat, reminding us about the hell we’ve created for ourselves.
My eyes meet a stranger across the room and we smile.
I nod at the driver beside me at a stoplight.
I chit chat with the woman behind the counter.
I take off my shoes and feel the sand in my toes.
I comment on someone’s nail polish or their cute puppy or their colorful shoes.
I say hey to a fellow hiker passing me in the opposite direction.
I send a four-word message to a friend or family member, how was your weekend?
I look my children in the eye and speak in soft tones.
I listen to and linger with another’s response.
Give touch. Utter a word. Express kindness. Ask a question.
Aim for small. Aim for the seemingly insignificant. Aim for simple human to human interactions.
Recognize our commonalities first.
Social media and the news corner us into counterfeit connectivity to people and places and points of view we might not have otherwise encountered in our normal day-to-day lives. There is no way to ignore or hide from the horrific headlines and distressing stories. They eventually find us.
Suddenly, we feel forced to care about EVERYTHING…and nothing.
Transported into a tragedy, a murder scene, a war zone, or a hospital room, it doesn’t take any amount of energy or empathy on my part. Instead, it leads to overwhelm and exhaustion. Hopelessness leaks in and I’m rendered paralyzed.
In Oliver Burkeman’s article for The Guardian, he advocates for a way of interacting with the news without allowing it to deplete our lives. He writes,
“In an age of attention scarcity, living a meaningful life entails not paying attention to almost every important issue; the greatest saints in history were never asked to care about as many instances of suffering as you’ll see if you scroll through a feed of international news today.”
“To live with a part of your mind perpetually in the world of the news, exposed to an entire planet’s worth of mendacity and suffering, railing against events too vast for any individual to alter, is to feel what Greenfield, author of the book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, calls “a low-grade sense of panic and loss of control”, so normal it has come to feel routine.”
Although I do not want to remain at a distance from disasters and devastation in our world, I can feel myself headed in that direction. Some days I try to plug my ears, sing la-la-la-la-la, and tune out completely. Purely out of survival.
And other days, the good days, I remember to look up and say hello. Here we are together.
I choose to care about you right now. I know it won’t make the headlines because the most revolutionary acts never do.