Okay, so as if being a citizen of one country with issues is hard, try being a citizen of two countries whose news is becoming more dire with each passing day. The world knows about Trump, no more needs to be said there. We have local elections in the UK this week and now a Parliamentary election in June; thanks Mayhem. Add to that the continued horrors in Chechnya, Syria, and shall we just say the whole fucking world because that is how it seems. I am one of those people who finds it hard to shut down or ignore the world around me. My mother used to call it being an old soul. At times, I put it down to being a writer and having a unique insight. Whatever you call it, we can all agree that there comes a saturation point where you need to protect yourself, and maintain your strength to be able to face and fight another day.
I have been lucky recently that despite the disturbing news coming in at all angles, I have been able to work on two pieces of writing that are on their way to publishers. Watch this space kids. This may be my year. Send the love, we need more of it around us. Also, I am lucky that meditation has provided me with some moments where I am just here. Not in my head. Not in the past. Not in the future. Just here.
There are loads of lists and blogs out there on how to cope and I have written before in A Pause about the need to take a step back from social media. I feel though that with what is going on now there is a need to actually not just pause but throw some good energy into the world and if enough of us do it collectively there will be all that positive energy in the air. I am the first to admit that there is no way you can face any problem with a negative mindset.
I came across this quote that stuck with me and made me stop and think. I shared it on Facebook and it got a few likes but I wanted to share it here and just let it sit for the moment.
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel
It made me think because optimism indeed sets an expectation, just as much as pessimism does. Is hope then more about trust? Perhaps. My intention is not to get into a discussion about that as much as leave it there to sit. Something to ponder in the present.
So apart from writing and meditation, I kept thinking about what you can do to just give yourself that space in these troubling times?
1. Lunch with your other half or a good friend: Hubby and I went to a fabulous South African restaurant in Falmouth for lunch last Saturday. In fact, we spent the day just wandering in and out of shops, taking our time to look at things. We did get some bargains but mainly it was connecting with the spaces we used to love but have not taken the time to visit recently because, well, life gets in the way and it is easy to push things to one side. One thing that I am guilty of and I think I am not alone in this one thing: Taking time. We all try to make time but sometimes you have to take time, simply say to yourself: Today we are doing this, or I am doing this..to Hell with everything else.
2. Make a mixed CD: So I am from the age of mixed tapes and back in the day my headphones and walkman looked like they were surgically attached to me. I love a mixed tape. Sure, CD's don't give you that lovely interruption of noises between tracks but they are easier to make. The hardest part is choosing your order and of course the songs. I made one last week to drive to Plymouth and I kind of themed it as music I would have driven to as a teenager. I am an older driver, I dislike the term mature, it comes with too much expectation; as such, I did not have the teenage driver experience.
3. Watch an old favourite sitcom: Whether you have DVD's, Netflix, Amazon, whatever...we all have those shows from our youth or just shows we love. I love throwing on an episode of The Golden Girls, or The Nanny or even The Simpsons. The shows still hold up and laughter sends out such good vibes to the world. That old saying about laughter being the best medicine; it is true for a variety of situations.
4. Read: There are books that I find so beautifully written it is a shame to read pages of them and lose sight of the language. I have been reading Roland Barthe's A Discourse for Lovers now for nearly a year because I love dipping into the snippets and savouring the words, the meanings. I also read the Dalai Lama's writings in a similar vein. There is beauty in the profound and although it can seem serious when you lose yourself in the language of the text there is a real connection that is made. Poetry works on a similar level I find. I think when you need to slow down and be in the moment, books like this are incredibly useful.
5. Support the Arts. Go further, support your friends in the arts. Listening to an album from start to finish is sometimes the meditative journey we all need to embark on, why not embark on that journey with a friend who has recorded an album. We all love a good album but there is something magical when you know the person and not only are you supporting them but you are also a major part of the recognition. Go see them live if they are putting on a gig. Go see a show that has your friend's work. Do you know any writers? Ask to read their work or buy their book. Is your friend in a play? Support them by seeing their show. When you are part of that exchange between artist and audience there it is special and not only are you lifting yourself but another person as well. That's two for the price of one, a real bargain.
John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.