Saturday, June 23, 2018

6.1 - How to be Happy in a Dumpster Fire

A lot has happened since I last posted here. To be specific, a lot of good things have happened, to me. I ran a half-marathon in a half-decent time. The World Cup has started. And, most importantly, I got engaged. It’s not a stretch to say that this has been one of the biggest weeks of my life.

It’s also felt like one of the most disgusting news cycles in recent weeks. There are kids being kept in cages along our border. Trump’s seems hellbent on destroying alliances with allies and making friends with dictators. And people seem more intent on defending their “team” rather than doing anything.

If there was one person I didn’t want to hear from the weekend I proposed to Kelley, it was Trump. I didn’t look at news, I only checked my notifications to see who liked our engagement photo, and we soaked up the moments when we shared the news with our family and friends. Hearing my aunts choke up over the phone, seeing the reaction of Kelley’s brother and sister-in-law, and seeing messages from friends who I haven’t heard from in years was fantastic and life giving.

Yet, Trump wasn’t going anywhere. I knew my Facebook feed would still have articles documenting the wanton cruelty, corruption, and recklessness of his administration. These things would still be happening. The reality of the world would eventually pop my bubble of warm fuzzies.

Social media doesn’t help any of this either. If you’re silent, you look apathetic. If you’re posting about stuff like #MPRraccoon, you’re accused on trivial and inconsequential things. If you’re angry, be prepared to spend half your day moderating comments on a post. It just doesn’t seem like a productive use of time, even if it’s your only outlet.

A tweet from one of my favorite movie critics, Tim Grierson, summed up how I feel. He said, “Being angry all the time is exhausting and corrosive. Not being angry feels morally irresponsible.” A reply to the tweet stated, “None of this seems particularly complex.
Anyway, I use my anger as fuel. Looking away is a privilege I refuse to indulge in.”

Something about that response made me angry. I don’t doubt that the woman who wrote it is a good person whose intentions are in the right place (and I don’t want to judge the person based on one tweet.) However, it dismissed the complex, beautiful, and subtle things that make us human beings. We weren’t born with two emotions: anger and not anger. Anger is not my main fuel. And yeah, you can look away, because if you’re shocked by everything, pretty soon you’re shocked by nothing.

I don’t think it’s healthy to feel one emotion all the time. I don’t think we should strive to feel one emotion all the time either. Sometimes you embrace your anger. Sometimes you embrace your sadness, and sometimes you embrace your joy (and you shouldn’t feel guilty about any of these things.)

Yes, I’m going to continue to be angry by the inhumane treatment on our borders and make my small voice heard how it can. But I’m also going to be watching a lot of World Cup games and sharing my enthusiasm with my friends and family. I’m also going to be working hard planning a wedding. And I’m going to revel in the journey I’m taking with my fiance.

The world is so much more complex than we think it is. Embrace it.