On the island of Lipari now and staying at the vacation spot of my dreams. A simple room with no windows, but open the door and there is a patio looking out to the Mediterranean Sea and the town below and it could not be more idyllic. So out I went accompanied by cooing doves and flickering hummingbirds and the boats gliding in the sea below and made the terrible mistake of first checking e-mail. And there was the news about the next terrorist attack in Nice and then all the sympathies and breaking hearts in Facebook. And it suddenly seemed so small and self-indulgent to write about my lovely vacation.
And so the question. How much room do you keep in your heart for the world’s sorrows? Every day of reading the newspaper gives you something to be sad about, but seems like more and more and more and more again these days the news reports the senseless, random killings that leave innocent people incapable of ever going on their vacation again. The wars, the Mafia killings, the jealous husbands and wives—all sorrowful, but easier to dismiss as something the players signed up for. But terrorism that punishes people who did nothing wrong other than be in the wrong place at the wrong time sends all of humanity down into the abyss of our worst selves.
So I ask again: How much grief do we let enter? Is it wrong to enjoy the fresh peach for breakfast knowing that 80 innocent people never will again? Of course, in times of great upheaval, we do suspend our concern with what we had for breakfast and let the sorrow descend. But now that tragedy is commonplace and fills the headlines every week, if not every day, how can we be expected to live our lives? What is the correct mathematical ratio of sorrow and concern for the other with deep appreciation of each moment we are blessed to keep living?
If you have a thought, please let me know. Meanwhile, all I know how to do is dig deeper into anything I’m doing that is the opposite of terrorism. Re-commit myself to drive-by love, infecting innocent people with the joy of music and the innocence of children and the practice of attention and gratitude. To do that work yet broader and deeper and to fully savor each moment myself, be it a beautiful morning looking out over Lipari, a joyful Orff workshop, a political protest or a gathering of grief. I guess there is no standard mathematical formula showing the appropriate percentage of compassion for others and enjoyment of one’s own life. We each have to find our own way. Look out at the view from the room of our heart and see what we see.
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