Honestly, 2014 has been good to us so far. Very low-key. We've spent quality time with friends, had some fantastic dinners, and we're getting stuff done around the house. The Boy has had one snow day and is looking forward to at least one more- probably more of a the-temperature-is-too-cold-to-leave-the-house day than an actual snow day. But it still counts. Personally, I'm back in the exercise groove after holiday bingeing, I've been cooking more often- which I love, and reading a little bit more. Everyone is reasonably happy and healthy- even the cat is getting much better than I had expected.
And yet. My anxiety about the world at large has crept up. It's not just the major news- terrorists in Russia, continuing problems in Afghanistan, legislative fights over women's birth control. It's been some of the smaller stories too. I recently heard a story on NPR about how one of the Newtown families has been coping since the loss of their only daughter. Also on NPR a few days ago, I heard a story about the homeless in Maine, and they interviewed a man who's been on the street for three years. At my dentist's office I read a story in a magazine about a woman who lost her three daughters and both parents in a Christmas morning fire. A couple of days ago I read a story in our local paper about how Homeland Security is conducting internet child pornography stings. The article also focused on one of the victims, which was heartbreaking. And two nights ago I read a story online about Ariel Levy, and how she lost her baby while overseas. Let's not even get into all the horrible stories I read in today's paper.
People. I'm not sure that I can take much more.
I realize that I have the power to change this. Just don't read the fucking stories, you might be thinking as you roll your eyes at me. But it's not that simple. At least it doesn't feel like it is. Often times, when I listen to stories about people who have lost children, or are homeless, or who have lived through some other kind of tragedy, I feel like I almost owe it to them. Surely, the storytelling must be cathartic for them on some level. So I, as a listener or reader, feel like I should hear their story. Maybe I will learn from it, or it will motivate me to take action. Or maybe it will just deepen my empathy for them and the human condition in general. But I do feel that I owe it to them to hear their story.
Sometimes the stories are more informative than a personal storytelling. Today's news about prison rates, childhood poverty, etc. was also a downer, just not told from any one person's point of view. But I feel like I should read these stories too. To stay informed, to remember what the world is like outside of my bubble. I have a hard time ignoring these stories too.
Balance and action are the key, I think. Balance out these stories with ones that are more uplifting. And make sure that I'm doing positive things for me, my family, and community. What would be helpful too, is to start looking at more ways that I could take some action. Donate to related charities, or volunteer my time to related organizations. All good things to do and to plan for in the coming year.
OK. And maybe not turn a blind eye, but I could put the fucking paper down once in a while. Or turn off the radio. Maybe that would be all right too.