Any moment now, masked gunmen are going to burst through your doors and raze the entire place down to the ground in a hail of bullets and bombs. Or, rioting mobs will trample past your front window, throwing stones, burning and looting stuff. Failing that, someone with a strange new virulent disease will sneeze on you, passing on the germ that will kill you and wipe out your entire family. Melting icecaps will have huge waves of water pour through your windows. You have nowhere to hide. You’ll be run out of your home. You’ll starve to death.
This is someone’s reality, but I’m willing to bet, NOT YOURS.
Most lives, even in some of the most high-octane event-filled parts of the world, are very mundane. True, everyone has their share of life-changing drama, but for most, even these are interspaced with vast amounts of ho-hum, just-so, day-to-day living. For most, life is taken up by the minutiae of day to day living…waking up, washing up, work, daily chores and tasks, a meal or two, some downtime, sleep. Ad infinitum. Most of the time, the high drama is taking place elsewhere.
So why does it feel so immediate? Does your life feel like there is constant imminent danger from gunmen, tidal waves and epidemics?
True, the world can be a scary place, but being hooked on the disaster narrative we are constantly fed by the media blinds us to the subtle nuances of our lives. I agree that it is prudent to tie one’s camel even while having faith in God’s protection, but conditioning ourselves to see nothing but potential for danger and crisis in every situation we face makes for a very crippled life. Besides, you need to ask, whom exactly, are you allowing to dictate your experience of your life?
There is much wisdom in taking up the habit of paying conscious attention to your immediate environment. One simple reason being mistakes happen when we’re not paying attention. Worse than that, there is so much to treasure in our surroundings that we miss for being so focused on people, places and canned interpretations of happenings a million miles from where we are. I’m not saying that we stop caring about what happens to others, I’m just saying that, sometimes, take your attention away from the anxiety-causing, adrenalin fuelling “DISASTER NOW” narrative being fed to you from a screen to look around you. It might calm you down.
So here’s a thought.
Instead of relying on some faceless corporation to tell you what to fear, why don’t you take a look around? Why don’t YOU decide who your friends (or, if you wish, your foes) really are? Why don’t you look out the window to tell the weather, or judge a leader’s intentions by what you see achieved in your neighbourhood? Who does more harm to your life, a faceless community of ‘immigrants’ or your ‘friendly’ neighbourhood bank? Look around to really see…what really IS going on around you? Who is really successful? Is it the people that media tells you ought to be successful, or is the reality different? Who is happy, who is well? Who is doing fine?
Death and destruction being spewed from The Screens might seem like a call to action to change the world, which is a nice idea, but why not, just this once, see what can you change in your immediate surroundings? What can you make better, right here, right now?
Better still, why not take a vacation from being constantly on your guard from distant battles to fully experience what’s around you right now?
Take a moment to ask yourself, what is good about where you are? What are you glad for? Does that particular tree right there, the one you barely notice, make you just that much gladder for being in the world? Or does the way the the sun’s rays hit the side of a wall at just that particular time of the morning make something in your heart sing? Take your eyes off the gun-totting militia on your screen for a moment. What can you see around you? A hedge, a bush, or street paving? Perhaps a dusty road or row of houses. What do you see when you take a walk around? A puddle, a ditch, an abandoned building. A corner kiosk, a newspaper man, an empty field, or cosy city corner?
What of your other senses? Your feet in slippers. The sound of children playing, or the whoosh of a train going past. Dust. A gnarly old tree. Your shadow against the ground on a hot afternoon. The feel of a concrete wall. Bare earth. City lights seen from a high-rise apartment. Water bubbling down a little brook or ditch. An aeroplane flying above you. A street band. A field before harvest. The tinkle of cowbells, the buzz of an insect on a hot afternoon, raindrops on a dirt path or glass window. The sound on rain on a tin roof. Snow on grass. Sparks of lit charcoal billowing from a stove sitting in the wind. Stars on a clear night. Crickets. The womb-like hush of a thatched earth cottage at dusk. Wood-smoke. Black metal railing fences. Red earth. The reflection of glass from the side of a grand office building. A distant hill, silhouetted against a blazing blue sky. A pond. Water sparkling at the foot of a single street-light. Little bits of magic sprinkled around a sometimes very grey world.
Take a look around. This is the space you are required to live in. Spend some time here. Welcome to your world.