There are so many things falling into the "even worse than I thought" category that now I'm just lumping them all together: the economy, muscle spasms, the unfathomable depths of corporate greed and callousness, the state of my 401K. Part of my personal pathology is that I feel overwhelmed very easily. And lately I have been feeling intensely overwhelmed.
Rather than listing all of the contributing factors, though, I want to list all the things I tell my friends when they ask the handbasket question, the things I try to tell myself, although I don't always manage to get through.
Juliana of Norwich, medieval mystic:
All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.This is the long, long, long view. Ultimately, everything will be fine. All the crises and weights and conundrums will ultimately come to naught. At the very bottom and at the very core of everything, there is goodness, light, truth, beauty, justice, joy, and most of all, love. And because of that, "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well."
Haldir, elf of Lothlorien (from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings):
The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.True, there is great evil afoot. Evil is rampant in the world and having a heyday. But don't let it steal the show. Evil is always noisier, flashier, and more demanding. Good is quieter, steadier, stronger, content to work for the broader long-term benefit. If you sit quietly in the morning light, you can smell it. It is very powerful and available to all who seek it.
Despair can have its own deadly allure, but it is a great deceiver, because good is always more powerful and more enduring than evil. Always.
Another quotation from the Lord of the Rings, this time from the movie, The Two Towers:
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.In the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Ah, Samwise the brave and wise, the most fiercely loyal of friends. You could do worse than use Sam as a role model. There is indeed some good in this world, and it is most definitely worth fighting for.
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.
This morning I was feeling, well, you know, overwhelmed and a bit blue. And a dear friend sent me a link to this video. It totally transformed my perspective. As she told me, "It's long but worth it."
When Tom came home this afternoon, not long after I watched that video, I told him how awesome and wonderful he is. And then I sat him down to watch the video while I got ready to go. I heard him laughing while I was in the shower.
No matter where we're going, no matter how fast, no matter how directly downhill—no matter that we're in an overcrowded handbasket—we can still be kind and encourage each other and love each other and focus on the things that really matter. We can spread more joy, more love, more hilarity. And those are most definitely the things that are worth fighting for.