I feel like I’ve been in a fight for the past two weeks. I am not sick, and my life is as good as it was before, but I am beaten down and sad.
I am immensely grateful for the life that I have lived thus far. My loved ones and I are healthy. We have what we need and some things that we simply enjoy. I am married to a man who gets better with age. Most of the time, remembering these things bucks me up. But there are days when my heart and mind are too preoccupied to be coaxed into a better mood by mantras of gratitude.
In the past few weeks, we’ve had two mass shootings (that I’ve heard about) in my country. There has been a slaughter of innocents in Kenya. A friend had a sudden death in the family. The list goes on and on. But it is not as if suffering suddenly increased. This stuff goes on every day. People kill, abuse, hurt, and murder each other every day. Since the dawn of humankind, we’ve been suffering terrible accidents, dealing with famine, drought, floods, terrible governments, and bad people.
Most of the time, I do what everyone else does with suffering that does not directly affect their lives: I acknowledge or ignore it, package it up and put it aside. It is natural, even healthy. It’s a survival mechanism. It is how we are able to focus on living our next moment to the best of our ability, because that is our job and it is the only thing we can do.
Sometimes, I stagger under the weight of the world. I carry it around as though it is my responsibility to solve it. I can’t set it aside to enjoy the lovely moments of my life. And I am almost religiously compelled to acknowledge the goodness around me.
If carrying the world’s sorrow helped anyone, I’d do it gladly. But it doesn’t. It impedes my ability to be a force for good in the small ways I am able. We can’t relieve the world’s hurt by feeling bad about it. Oh, if only that were the case. We only make ourselves and those around us unhappy if we try.
I hope it will pass in the next few days. It usually does. I am able to set down that huge burden and focus on promoting truth and goodness among my small circle of influence- chatting with the checkers at the grocery store, trying to raise good children, attempting to be a decent wife, smiling at strangers and looking them in the eye. You know- the small stuff.
When the world or private issues overwhelm you, you have my prayers and sympathies. I hope that you are soon able to straighten up and feel the sun on your face again.
The sculptures are all from the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway. It is an intensely moving place to experience, if you ever get the chance.