How do you cope with the weight of current global events? Are you exhausted? Constantly checking the news? Do you cope by tuning out completely? Here is what’s helping me.
This past week my brother and his family went kayaking on the ocean with a guide. There was one short video clip he shared that I could have watched for hours. It was calm. They were sitting quietly taking it all in as a couple of dolphins, almost within reach, slipped silently through the water. It moved me. I so desperately want to live in a world that is peaceful where all are allowed to live in harmony. Given everything going on, I wanted to stay in that kayak right along with them and never leave.
I don’t know what to say or how to respond to what is happening on the global stage. I am confused. I feel the heaviness. I somehow feel that looking away is not caring, not giving my full support to those in crisis, even though I know this is not true.
The most helpful thing I read this week was by @Blackliturgies.
For those who don’t know what to say when the world is grieving.
If you don’t know what to say, choose silence. In doing, we amplify those voices that are most prone to being drowned out by the noise of the world. Maybe it’s not your voice you need to hear today. You don’t have to know what to say. Release the expectation that you should be articulate and wise in the midst of global terror, when really you’re just confused and scared or feel nothing at all. Silence can be sacred too.
You don’t have to understand it all to be afraid. To notice that the air feels heavier this week. That your body feels different. Go slow. Pay attention. And rest. Solidarity is not the same as exhaustion.
INHALE: I can listen in this silence
EXHALE: I am more than a voice@Blackliturgies.
I hope you’ll go slow this week and pay close attention not only to what is outside, but also what is inside. You don’t have to feel a certain way. You don’t have to understand or know what to do or say. Let go of that expectation and remind yourself that there is good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.
Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.Sam’s speech in Osgiliath, at the end of the Two Towers
One of my favorite exercises to support processing difficult things, is to close my eyes and ask what is present – thoughts, emotions, physical sensations. Take a deep breath and consciously acknowledge and accept what is there without trying to resist it. Focus on one emotion and ask what this emotion would say to you if it had a voice. Journal about it.
2 thoughts on “Coping with the Heaviness of Current Events”
Our consumer culture wants people to focus on themselves and to let “the market” sort things out. But historically humans have only survived by cooperating and caring about others, particularly in times of crisis.
People often worry, and we can benefit from focusing on our own challenges. But as Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The extra benefit of “doing something” is that we almost always feel better when we help others, even in small ways.
Regarding Ukraine, there are many small and large things most people can be active in, from praying to searching out groups sending funds or support to Ukrainian families.
People can certainly go on planned vacations, but when huge, world-involving events are happening people have been known to change how they allocate excess funds to serve an urgent need that someone else has.
All that said, it is lovely to have a calm video to ease our own state.
Thanks for your comments. Re-reading what I wrote I can see how it could come across as not caring about others. This is not how it was intended at all. My tendency is to look too much and get sucked into the darkness of it all. I think we should let our heartbreak turn to helping. Yes. I also think it’s okay to take care of ourselves too. If that means looking around to remind ourselves there is also good out there ( not just darkness and evil) then that’s a positive thing. By the way, I was in no way suggesting people go off on a vacation. My brother and his family are lucky enough to live in beautiful Cape Town.