Yee-Gads. Enough already. So much daily doom and gloom, it is exhausting and sickening. We can’t escape being bombarded with fear-inducing, anger-generating news every day. Questionable leadership, threats of war, climate change, the destruction of our earth, heroin epidemics, terrorism, racism, poverty, you name it, we have become a nation obsessed with drama and extremism. We fear for the world our kids are growing up in, and even worse, our kids never escape the messages we are sending either. And it is taking its toll, certainly. We hear far too much about drug addiction, suicide, depression – so much so that we fear that is the new norm. But is it?
Years ago, we shied away from talking about some of the more challenging issues and bad things in our world, preferring to hide the hard stuff. But when did the tide turn so much that now we seem to only be able to talk about everything that is wrong, while we sweep all the good things under the rug?
Yes, I said good things. Guess what, there ARE still good things, good people – and get this – good kids — in the world. I know, because I’ve seen them. Kind of like catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster, it is amazing what we can witness when we peer through the fog that surrounds us.
This past weekend a couple of my girlfriends and I attended a Drama Club production at the high school. My son was making his acting debut, so with sweaty hands and beating heart, I watched the stage. It was a challenging historical drama, not a light-hearted fluffy musical. (Because, well, again, we apparently can’t get our fill of drama.) I came away deeply impressed with all of the kids. On top of their regular school work, they were able to pull off memorization of extensive dialogue and learn how to emote and act, and work together as a cast & team. They were good. Very good.
After the performance, we took my son to get ice cream, and lo and behold, most of the rest of the cast was there too. As we settled in to our booth across from the group of kids, I watched them, excited and exhausted teenagers, interacting and talking… in person, without technology. I especially noticed the girls. They were all beautiful, full of youthful energy, smart, and – wait for it – happy. And I knew that at the same time they were on stage acting, a bunch of other teens from the same school were playing in sports games or practices. Or off doing other activities, jobs, and clubs. As a matter of fact, it was happening in towns all across the country. Thousands of healthy kids making good choices. Being good, decent kids. They, for some weird reason, are the ones we never hear about.
Sure, there will be the super stars. A handful of all of those kids will go on to achieve amazing things. One will make our environment healthier. One will develop a cure for cancer. One will invent the next hi-tech tool that will change the way we communicate and work. One will win an Oscar. One will become a professional elite athlete. One will become President. We will hear about them, we will know their names.
But what of the rest? What of the good, decent, hard working, passionate kids who will be successful in their own ways, and will actually go through life pleasantly happy? Why do we never hear about them, nor do we notice when they become us: good, decent, satisfied adults?
That evening at the ice cream shop, my son nicely introduced us to some of the kids we didn’t know. I explained to the girls that I have known the two BFFs at my table for most of my life. We then said “This will be you in about 35 years.” The look on their faces I think was a mix of fear and happiness. Fear that they will some day be “old” like us, happy because we were proof that some of the friendships they make now will still be with them for decades.
The next night, after a fun day visiting and shopping, we had a BFF group dinner out with five of us ladies. I thought about all of those young girls again. I wanted to tell them that some day they too can be middle-aged, middle-class, menopausal, hard working, care-giving, weight-fighting, energy-craving wives, moms, and friends. They will discuss medical diagnosis, stories about bra shopping, commiserate about work and family stresses, compare good and bad marriages, worry about their children, and empathize about caring for elderly parents. And they will laugh so hard they will be glad they wore panty shields, and other people in the restaurant will move to further away tables. They will be incredibly strong, smart, passionate, healthy women. They will be blessed and lucky to have each other, and to have the lives they are living.
Against apparent popular belief, our worlds will not end tomorrow. There is still good in around us. We just have to be more aware of it, recognize it, welcome it and appreciate it.
And once in a while, we may just have to stand up and applaud it.