"Are you scared about World War Three?" I ask my husband over coffee.
It's just one of the many tender ways I like to begin the day. We're sitting in our living room with fresh-made espresso drinks, a mocha for him, an Americano with lots of steamed milk for me. The morning light comes through our A-framed windows that look out over evergreens and oak trees and birches all the way to peekaboo views of Lake Washington. On a clear day you can see Mt Rainier to the south, and the Cascade mountain tops to the north. It's heaven. But today I'm thinking about nuclear war.
"Are you scared?" I ask again.
"No," my husband answers. He is busy with something on his iPad.
"How come?" I ask.
"I don't think it will happen."
There is something about the directness of his answer that makes me laugh inside, especially when I compare it to my own internal landscape of "we're-going-down" fear.
"Scared isn't right word," my husband says a few minutes later. "I think concern is a better word. I certainly don't like what's going on."
You know how they say opposites attract? It happened in my marriage, too. My husband is steady and reasonable and doesn't let the news of the day rev him up in to a state of reactive fear like I do, with images of a scorched earth, and everyone I love running down neighborhood streets with melting body parts looking for loved ones. Ugh. That's something I do to myself.
We're all different
Some of us, like my husband, can watch the evening news, take in the information on a more rational level and then sleep like a baby.
Others, like me, well--just can't.
IT'S NOT NATURAL
Here's the thing: We humans weren't created to metabolize a tsunami of news coming at us from every freakin' corner of the world at such a fast pace. Once upon a time, we collected stories and news from our tribe or general local geographical area and got on with the business of hunting, gathering, reproducing, drawing pictures on caves, etc. (This isn't my actual area of expertise but one can assume it's pretty close.)
These days, we don't just have multiple news outlets churning out scary stories on the minute, but we have this whole chorus of outcry and commentary coming from social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. So if you're turning yourself full-tilt toward it all, you're taking on a LOT.
If you're someone who deeply cares about the world, the people in it, our future, and you practice your citizenry with all your might: making calls, writing letters, sending texts, taking to the streets, engaging in conversation, donating, volunteering--then let's hear it for your heart.
That is one big beautiful heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for caring.
Being compassionate, feeling empathy is a gift, and it needs to be cared for.
So if you're going to fight the good fight, take good care of yourself. Please: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.
Take news breaks. Take social media breaks. Drop out for a bit. Give yourself a news holiday. Restore your energy.
The world will be here for you when you return.
In the meantime, enjoy this painting by Marc Chagall, "Study for the Painting Rain." He is one of many artists and painters who lived through some intensely bad-ass times (real World War), and transcended it all to make the most exquisite beautiful creations.
This month is dedicated to Feeling Better in a Troubled World: Simple ways you can catch a breath and remember a bit of beauty when the news is getting you down. If you want to talk more about feeling better in troubled times, email me for a conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org . There's no need to feel alone! XO