Lately it seems like we are all carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. Around the kitchen table, at social gatherings, and on social media, we are having far more discussions about the future of our government, political decision-making, foreign relations, the power of others, and the widening gap between rich and poor, than chats about fashion, food and fun. It was a welcome relief when we all momentarily diverted our attention to football and Lady GaGa. Yet even the excitement over the historical game results and the aerial vocalist’s outfits and fireworks were short-lived. Within 48 hours we were back to travel bans and Senate confirmations. Luckily we in the northeast have an impending snow storm to chat about, and can break up the monotony of worldly worries by having bread and milk parties in the grocery stores for a few hours.
As much as I hate to see our country so divided and restless, I do think it is admirable that so many of us are trying in our own ways to take action, to speak out, to show support for what we each believe in and try to make a difference on a grand scale. But after a while, it just gets tiring. We need diversions. We need to start thinking about the “small” things again. To pay some attention to the areas in our lives where we do have more control. This morning I started to consider how we could all press the pause button in our complaining and worrying and get back to being a bit more thankful. Maybe spend a bit of time recognizing how fortunate we are to have the simple things in life. Plainly stated, I’m attempting a shift in perspective.
Last night I got my haircut. The stylist kindly fit me in last minute, when my hair had reached what I call “flashpoint” and suddenly was unruly and shaggy. The weight-of-the-world-complaining me would see the appointment as “another thing” to try to fit in to a busy day and evening, making me miss my workout, and I was tired. But wait a minute. What really was happening is that someone pleasant to talk to, with skills and abilities far beyond my own capabilities, was pampering me by washing my hair, cutting and styling it and making me feel and look better than I did when I walked in the door. Huh. Ok. Lucky me.
This morning when the alarm went off my first reaction, same as always, was “oh, noooo, not already. I feel like I’ve only been asleep for about five minutes. I don’t wanna get up.” The simple reality is that I have a comfortable bed in a safe and secure house with electricity and plumbing. I had hot water and great smelling soap so I could take a shower. I had a variety of clothes to choose from to put on (yet how many mornings do I stand in my closet and think “ugh, I’m so sick of these clothes, I have ‘nothing’ to wear”?). I’m fortunate.
It was a busy morning of getting my son off to school, taking care of the dog, getting myself ready for my day, covering to-do’s with my hubby, and hurrying to get out the door early to head out on a business trip. Yup, lots there to potentially complain about. Really? Why? Because I have a smart and fairly self-sufficient son who can make his own frozen waffles before shuffling out the door? Because I have a completely adorable and sweet pup? Because I have a hubby who’s willing to drop off a package at UPS for me and carried my suitcase to my car?
Speaking of being fortunate, I find myself very much in a minority of women who love their jobs. It took me a lot of years to find it. My hubby and I both work very hard, and put in lots of hours. But not only are we among the lucky to be employed, but I love what I do, and who I do it for. Shame on me if I don’t take a moment every day to pause and be thankful. Shame on any of us who aren’t appreciative of being able to bring home a paycheck to pay the bills.
My trip today required air travel. Oh, boy, LOTS of potential for inconvenience, discomfort and complaining there. Let’s face it, flying can no longer be categorized as a fun experience. We also hear way too many horrible things about what “could happen”, which can give us nightmares or anxiety attacks. Which again pulls us back into worrying about the big scary world and what’s wrong with it. But today, even cutting my time a bit closer than I had intended, I got checked in and through security in a breeze. I was able to get a vanilla chai tea, and log on using the airport’s free wifi on my laptop to take care of a couple of work things before getting on the plane. How privileged.
The flights were packed, and since today I was traveling via Southwest with unassigned seating, and luck of the draw was in the last group to board, I ended up in one of the last available middle seats. Comfortable? Nope. Even the steward jokingly said “sit back and get comfortable in your 32” wide seats.” I took my Airborne this morning to fight back the swirling cloud of germs I’d be breathing in all day. But what are the alternatives? Attempt to drive 3,000 miles to my destination, which would take six days, rather than being there in six hours? Or not make the trip at all? My best option would be to be like I Dream of Jeannie and blink myself there. But that’s not gonna happen. Trust me, I’ve tried. So there I was, literally winging my way across the country. Advantaged.
During my travel, I’m lucky in another way. For hours at a time, I’m disconnected from the news. I’m disconnected from social media. I hear smatterings of conversations around me, or maybe briefly exchange pleasantries with another traveler. I spend time looking through magazines, reading a book, or writing. None of which has anything to do with trying to solve the world’s problems. And it is a lovely diversion.
Please don’t mistake my escapism as complacency. Just like so many other R.W’s out there, I care, and I care a lot. I worry. A lot. I take action when appropriate. I learn, I listen, I try to make good decisions. And I pray. A lot.
But once in a while, we need to be a bit less like Atlas, set that world down, take a break, and be glad for what we have.
Sometimes we just simply need to go buy milk and bread.