We were laughing and rolling our eyes at this false epidemic and how the whistle blowers were now probably blushing and hiding in their rabbit holes while promising a return of the Real Killer Flu next year.
All this brings me to monkey mind.
Monkey mind--like I have to tell any of you--is the language your mind makes that puts you into the state of f*#cked-upness. Think: Freaked out, scared, hyperventilating, running through the streets still wet from the shower you fled because the boogie-men were chasing you ... until you find yourself in the middle of a quiet street on a May afternoon and ... nothing. Just the sounds of birds chirping.
The monkeys sure are laughing. And hard, too.
Blush. Followed by days of self-flagellation, the hair shirt, embarrassment, etc etc.
Getting to the point of this monkey business
Start with the economy and the recession. Sure things suck. I know it first hand. I lost my job, too. (I have to ask: Why do we use the word "lost" when it's so far from the truth? It was taken from us. When I explained the idea of job loss to my nine-year-old nephew, he innocently asked, "But what if the people don't want to go?").
And so. We have our scary-ass Depression thing going on and the Swine flu uproar which reminds me of the alarm instigated by the terrorist color panel alerts that came in the wake of the horrible Twin Towers bombing.
What on earth is a citizen to do when the people on the news and our elected government officials tell us we're at a very high red-alert five-star danger state for a terrorist attack?
But back to the present, where the economy still stinks, gas prices are rising but a few news wisps suggest the recession just may be bottoming out and on the way out, despite some recent big-company layoffs. And the Killer Flu Pandemic is on hold until Winter 2010.
You know what I wish? I wish we Americans allowed for and supported the kind of leader who could respond to Flu news and other hysteria without covering his ass and instead just say "Ok, everyone just pipe down. Wash your hands, be careful but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill." It seems we, the voting public, can support the idea of visionary leadership in a campaign but when the person is elected, the state of affairs returns to ass-coverage. Work has a lot of this too.
Back to the point of monkey mind--and there is a point
Don't be part of the monkey mind!
Even if things are really really hard. Don't walk around paralyzed and wired and uncreative and depressed; don't seek out downer conversation and if you do want to talk about the state of affairs, throw some creative solutions and opportunity thoughts in there. And everytime a bank gets stressed tested or the market falls, don't keep your family home for dinner or forego buying a new book at your local bookstore--keep one more small business in business.
And everytime you get a stuffy nose and sore throat do not re-write your will. Drink water and go to bed early.
The more we are talked into--no, scared into--believing that our future is on a really horrible and despairing and frightening path, the more we make it so. All of us, together, in our oozing monkey mind of doom.
And part of this vicious cycle may be part of a story-telling principle: TROUBLE MAKES A GOOD STORY. This is creative writing 101. And because the media is a business that needs stories that sell, the more trouble and rife and drama--the better. Especially when the media has to get our challenged attention spans and sell news and stay in business. And I knew it's cool to disdain the media but that is just so unimaginative. The media are people too, so.
What if we agreed to just read and listened ot the news media, and when things get hysterical we can nod our heads at it the way parents do when young children scream--because that's what children do--and move on?
Here are some suggestions to relieve monkey mind:
Art: Whatever it is that does it for you, put yourself in front of your favorite artforms as often as possible. Even if it's bringing up some artwork on the Web and staring at it for a few minutes and reading about what the artist went through to do the work (talk about good troubling stories!).
Nature: I find when I am out walking or running and I see this amazingly graceful tree trunk with a flurry of pink blossoms on top like it just walked out of the hair-tree salon, there I am--MIRACULOUSLY--in a state of awe. No problems in the world for a few moments. Nature doesn't know about recessions and wars and heartbreak. It is there for the beautiful taking and a relief from ourselves.
Community: Put yourself in the good company of people you love who remind you why this life is worth every single solitary beautiful horrible struggling challenging step. Hang out with people who can laugh at themselves and know how to give really good deep hugs.
Ask some fruitful questions: Recessions are quiet times. Like sabbaticals. These are opportune times to get to know yourself anew, and assess how you might like going forward in your life on this planet within your community.
And ask yourself: What are the things that makes life worth living?
Art: Pablo Picasso's "Spain" (top) and Marc Chagall's "Woman and the Roses", bottom. Both men had their own beautiful creative ways to deal with monkey mind.