How can I make things better with the onslaught of the terrible and the tragic that threatens to paralyze me? How do I live a life committed to creativity, compassion, beauty and joy in the face of an endless stream of suffering?
You see, on Friday I had planned to make the long drive to take a dance class, spread some joy by wearing my Santa Hat while running errands, and deliver cookies to firefighters in a nearby city. But once I read the “Newsweek” article about the tragic plight of women and girls in Yemen, I could barely tear myself away from feverishly researching on the computer aid organizations working in that deeply troubled, faraway place.
Later in the day came the dreadful news about the massacre at an elementary school an hour away from here. How does one go about life with the awareness of these and other horrific tragedies? Once again, I was frozen.
But my wise husband reminded me of the value of positive energy and action to offset, even if in a modest way, all the destructiveness. I recognized that as much as I desperately wish I could prevent massive suffering, I often cannot.
For me, this means fueling the inherently positive energy of creating. Creating as much as I can, even, and maybe especially, in the face of destruction and evil. I will make dances and write. I will bake, cook and share. I will create offerings of beauty. I will do flashmobsolos in public places and bring along the dancers I’ve recruited to weave more public art into the daily life around me.
Donating to Oxfam’s efforts in Yemen, sponsoring and supporting a woman trying to rebuild her life through the wonderful program of Women for Women International, tutoring a student struggling in school, and encouraging my own children to give back may only be a drop in the bucket. But it’s better than nothing.
Adding to the plus side also means that I will strive to be more kind. I will be abundantly kind. I will lavish kindness whenever and wherever I can. Feeding the cycle of kindness heightens the overall positive vibe in the cosmos. It also has the power to derail negative actions and thoughts, maybe even avert specific suffering.
When someone does something kind for, or even near, us it shifts something inside us for the better, which we often pay forward, often unwittingly. I do believe that “…[n]o act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”–Aesop
And, yes, I will wear my Santa Hat. I offer it as beacon to children and adults alike that there is beauty and magic around us, even amidst the despair and darkness. The many looks of children’s wide-eyed wonder in the past few days has reinforced that for me.