I ran into a colleague at the market the other day and asked how she was. She teared up and answered, “Vertical today, but I’ve been horizontal lately… hard to get up with all that’s happening in the world.”
Yes, times are very hard, and many of us are grieving. That’s a very natural response to loss.
Social media is rife with snark, cynicism, and anger. Even the most benign video of frolicking otters is met with disdain and sniping political rhetoric. Many of us are angry and bitter, and are turning on one another. I understand the impulse to lash out in order to ease our pain, but when we lash out, it increases the pain of others. Acts of cruelty based on vengeance and anger—even small acts of petty viciousness—increase the total amount of violence in the world. Love, kindness, and a sense of humor can actually help shift our anger, and lift us in another direction.
One of my staff members said something hysterical yesterday, and I laughed out loud! It was a strange sound to my ears because it had been quite a while since I’d laughed like that. For those of you who know me, laughter comes easily to me, and the fact that I hadn’t had a belly laugh in weeks made me pause. I felt a brief twinge of guilt: how can I laugh when so much horror is rampant right now? I had to remind myself that laughter is very human, and I don’t want to leave that part of me behind.
Sometimes it feels like humans are the Dr. Seuss characters of the Universe. We are breaking open and evolving beyond “us vs. them” illusions of separation, and the oppressive systems on which they are predicated. We are seeing ourselves in all our warts and glory: we are mean-spirited, sublime, silly, truculent, generous, forgiving, and fundamentally downright funny. Let us embrace our full Horton-, Lorax-, and Mayzie McGrew-selves.
In these tender and tricky times, I ask us to reach toward each other. Stay present and compassionate in the face of grief and sadness. Offer a caress instead of a slap. And laugh. Laugh until our cheeks ache and tears run from our eyes.
Humans are evolving, growing, and learning. I’ve found that when I’m in that process, things are never neat and tidy. But I do learn, and you learn, and we will all collectively learn. So let’s take a breath, allow ourselves to grieve, be ineffably kind when we can, and don’t, don’t forget to laugh.
From my heart to yours,