It’s easy to get bogged down and depressed by the distress and hurt and misery and searing pain that exists in the world, to want to wallow in a pit of disgust, fear and mud. To think, really – no really – what is the fucking point, I’m actually just going to go and live the rest of my life in this nearby cave.
We are constantly bombarded with news so depressing and stories so upsetting that you can’t help but think that humanity is just made up of pigs, (sorry pigs) and stupid dangerous imbeciles.
I’m depressing myself again. The world is not full of awful people; at least they don’t make up the majority.
My point is this: We know life is not a bed of roses.
Don’t be apathetic, of course, but don’t imagine that the fear and hatred and bullshit we see all around us is all there is, and don’t focus only on what is not helpful. Of course we have to acknowledge that awful things exist – only then can we attempt to do something about them. But don’t dwell in that place which makes you feel more upset, or so numb, fearful and overwhelmed that you get into a state of paralysis and retreat inward, put up walls, and refuse to participate fully in life.
That’s the easy thing to do. It’s easier to feel so much overwhelm you do nothing. It’s easier to block everything out and become a sneery cynic, or choose to not believe that you can make a difference, because it’s all too uncomfortable anyway. It’s easier to stay on the same path than change course, as that involves getting up and moving and doing something different.
Let’s not forget the fact that there is so much good going on in the world too. So many good people, and good news, and touching stories, and kindnesses, and compassion, and love.
Here’s a story I often think back to when I need reminding that people on this planet don’t just want to hurt each other.
A long time ago, when I was a wee lass of 19 tender years I went travelling with a friend on a round the world ticket.
Footloose and fancy free!
We had been staying in Bali and were due to fly to Singapore to visit a family friend. Foolishly, (because we were young and reckless, and living in the moment) we had let our money run out almost completely. We knew we would be looked after in Singapore, and from there we’d be heading home, so, you know, no problem.
But… we hadn’t counted on having to pay airport tax.
We were in a tiny hut of an airport in Bali in 1994. There were approximately six other people in the airport, three of whom were staff. When we said we couldn’t pay the tax (about 20 USD each, about three nights’ food and accommodation in Bali ), the ground staff started taking back our backpacks from the conveyor belt.
We had about 16 dollars between us. No debit or credit cards.
It dawned on me that we were in a potentially dangerous situation.
I looked around. Before I could properly think about what I was doing I approached a woman and asked if we would be able to borrow some money. Feeling vulnerable and humiliated I started crying before I could get the words out.
She was such a nice woman! She smiled. She paid the tax. She gave us extra cash. She refused to give us her address so we could pay her back when we got home. She said she had a daughter our age.
We saw her later on the flight where we’d been amusingly upgraded to business class. The universe was clearly having a bit of fun with us that day.
This beautiful kind stranger informed us she couldn’t let us get off the plane until she had given us more money, because what would we do once we landed? Our friend wouldn’t be meeting us at the airport as he didn’t know when we were coming. (We had the wrong phone number for him, as it turned out.) We were literally going along to an unfamiliar country on a wing and a prayer.
She ended up giving us about 150 dollars. She said the way we could repay her was to do the same for someone else, should we one day find ourselves in a similar situation where the roles were reversed.
Thank you lovely lovely person whose name we never even found out!
I will remember and treasure you forever.
What I am trying to say is this:
Be kind. Have compassion for your fellow humans in trouble or caught up in their particular pain and grievance and bullshit. Do the right thing. Live in alignment with your values. If you are able to help someone or make their world the tiniest bit better then do it without question, because what’s the alternative? Be inspired by the good people and the countless small acts of kindness you no doubt experience every day, if you look hard enough. Act how you know you can if you really try.
Remember the good stuff that’s buried not that far underneath the surface. Start with yourself. Don’t underestimate your power and the agency you really have. We can never know how far-reaching the consequences of our actions might be.
And that, my friends, is the tiniest bit of comfort I am holding onto at the moment.
That, and Joe’s amazing vegan orange cake.
Lots of love! xxx
PS If you fancy some escapism in the form of offbeat and uplifting art for your walls, pop along to my Etsy shop here