Late last year my husband and I were watching Saturday Night Live and a skit came on about the Fiscal Cliff. Well...I didn't know what that was, hadn't ever heard the term. Part of my way to deal with my myriad health issues has been to eliminate sources of stress not critical to my survival. The news can sure be a source of stress! Nevertheless the look he gave me was similar to the one I give when a person under 25 asks me who The Beatles are. Dumbfounded disbelief. I felt ignorant and out of it and not at all connected to my fellow man. So the following day I turned the news on, determined to become aware of a world outside my own. A few days later the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened. Then it seemed there was another random public shooting every other day. It got to the point where I was scared to turn on the TV in the morning for fear of what had been unleashed while I slept. I remembered through rivers of tears pouring down my face why I didn't want to be a part of this cold, terrible, heartbreaking world. There was just too much pain. Senseless, pointless pain.
I stuck with it, though. And eventually there came a day when a person didn't converge on a public place of innocents with open fire. Amazingly enough there came a day I could watch the news without breaking down in a puddle of tears, too. Slowly I became reacquainted with the comings and goings of the world at large. Before I got sick I used to rant and rave at any newscaster who didn't share my opinion. Perhaps hardship has grown my compassion because I found myself listening to opposing viewpoints thoughtfully, and even learning a thing or two. As my knowledge of the world we live in expanded my sensitivity toughened up a bit. I mean if ever there was an exercise in not freaking out over things I can't control, watching the news was it!
So what did all this exposure to epic amounts of violence and controversy do for me? Slapped me around a little, reminded me of what is so terrible in the world, illuminated the irrelevance of my own existence? Sure. But it also propelled me forward. Being connected to something bigger than myself helped me think about more than myself. Examine my spot on the planet, how I fit in and what I can do to make the most of my life, regardless of hardship or disability. As odd as it may sound taking up with the daily news stuck my toe in. Signing up for the writing workshop a month later dunked me up to my jodhpurs. And finding out a piece I wrote in that workshop won in a writing competition a few weeks back, well I am now submerged up to my head. One small step toward joining the outside world turned into one giant leap forward in the progress of my life.
Thanks for joining,