My friend and mentor, Elaine Ambrose, has recently returned from a writing retreat in Ireland. A post she wrote resonated with me, and reminded me of conversations shared with locals on our trip to Italy.
“Why are all the Americans mad as a box of frogs?” David asked as he drove from the Dublin International Airport to my hotel. “I don’t understand all the vitriol. The waste of time is biscuits to a bear.” – Elaine Ambrose, “The Wisdom of Irish Taxi Drivers and Bartenders
We encountered similar questions. I’ve often wondered what people from across the globe think of the constant arguing and nastiness and judgmental tones.
Elaine had re-posted her article, just as I was hunting for the one I had written almost two years ago! Criminy, folks! Not much has changed in that time, at all. In fact, it might be worse.
“Oh, I am very weary, Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, My heart is sick of woe.” Anne Bronte
A friend posted a question on Facebook the other day. “Is it me, or is Facebook not fun anymore?”
To answer the question, no, it’s not you.
For the past few years, what used to be a fun way to reconnect has been anything but fun. It has been nothing but a constant barrage of political pain. A soul-sucking, life-draining experience. I even had someone remark that I hadn’t been on Facebook much lately. That’s true. It has mentally worn me out.
I think most people felt that no matter who won the election, the crazy would finally be over. Hah! Anything but. In my opinion, it is worse.
I am weary.
I can’t even count the number of people I talk to who are exhausted. It doesn’t matter the age, gender or economic status. Sleep seems to elude everyone.
I was chalking it up to hot flashes in the middle of the night, or too much coffee during the day, or too much on my to-do list. The lack of sleep had been affecting me on all levels – to include my writing (or lack thereof) and other creative endeavors.
But I think it is more. I think it is the constant negativity on social media, at social gatherings and on the news.
I am weary.
All the bickering and fighting about rights and who’s right is getting us absolutely nowhere. Nothing is positive is happening. Families are divided, friends are no longer friends.
I long for the days on social media where someone’s bowl oatmeal was filling my news feed.
While I appreciate people taking a stand, I have to wonder what that stand is doing. Is it changing anything for the better? Or is it furthering the divide?
Recent examples are the women’s marches and the pro-life marches. Who did it help? Did everyone attending these protests accomplish anything other than “solidarity” for their cause and drive a wedge even deeper?
I think of the time and money spent on these public displays. Could it have been spent better?
You won’t find me marching or protesting. First, my knees would not cooperate. But on a more serious and important level, I personally feel that my time, money and talents can be used for something more.
If you can spend time and money knitting protest caps, maybe you can use that same energy to knit chemo caps for cancer patients.
If you can spend time and money marching for life, maybe you can use that same time and money to buy and deliver diapers, layettes and formula to a pregnancy resource center.
If you can spend time and money marching for immigrants at an airport, maybe you can go to an intake organization for these people and donate furniture and clothing to those who arrive here with a suitcase and no provisions.
If we have a passion for what we protest for, then we need to also take care of the people with our actions.
It doesn’t matter what our politics are, because in the end, we are all people with opinions and the resources to make life better for others.
I think about the thousands and thousands of people at the recent protests who could have come together and filled the pantries at local food banks, served meals at homeless shelters, delivered food to homebound seniors, pulled weeds in a community garden or bought gift cards for groceries for a struggling family in their neighborhood.
For me, the only thing positive that has come from this continuous battle of the wills to be right instead of being the change, is to remind myself that I need to do more to make my corner of the world a better place. And I have already started to make that change.
The only way to heal this country is to start small. Like the old cliché poem of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” that is the only way we can start to come together. One person doing one small thing for another person. That is all it takes.
So, I ask of you, friend or foe, can we put the politics aside and put the barbs down? Can we work together? Can we be respectful of one another, whether we agree with each other or not? If we work side-by-side, we just might realize that we are more alike than different. Then we can work together on effectively tackling other issues.
I remember when I didn’t much like Sundays, well Sunday evenings anyway. As a kid, it meant slamming into completion the school work that was put off to the very last minute. As an adult – translation: mom – Sunday night evolved into making sure my own kids were slamming into the completion the homework that had been put off to the last minute. It meant packing lunches and checking backpacks. It meant questioning why weekends were so short.
For the past three years though, Sunday evenings couldn’t come fast enough. The fact that homework and backpacks were no longer an issue added to my enjoyment. But the truth of the matter is I couldn’t wait until I could grab my crisps and escape into the world of Downton Abbey.
Seriously, it is! I was Googling, “fun observances in January,” and ta-da, I found out that every year, January 13 is the day set aside to assess your dreams, goals and so forth. Makes sense to observe this in January as we begin a fresh new year.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers
It’s hard to believe that yesterday at this time, sleet, rain and snow flurries were taking turns smacking against the windows. It was gray, cold and dreary – a typical November day in our area of the world. Twenty-four hours later, the sun is streaming through the windows of a pretty late-fall day, and as I had let the dog back in the house, I could hear the comforting bells chiming at the church a block away.
“The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love.”
Though I have been in the writing field for about two decades, it was just this past year I started to attend writing conferences. I have attended workshops, but never day-long conferences. Trust me when I say I am kicking myself for not attending these events sooner.
“If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, I am afflicted.” Max Lucado – Before Amen
What an honor to review Before Amen, a book by one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado.
One of the reasons I have always enjoyed Max Lucado’s books and devotionals is because he has a talent for writing the most profound messages in such an easy-to-comprehend way. He begins this book by announcing that he is a recovering prayer wimp, and admits that has dozed off while praying. He also admits that his thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again.