If Only I Could Be Light!

posted in: Day In The Life 27
"Música en las Tullerías" by Eduard Manet, 1862. Image: National Gallery, London, via Wikipedia.
“Música en las Tullerías” by Eduard Manet, 1862. Image: National Gallery, London, via Wikipedia.


Having a blog about my life is strange, sometimes.

I am sad. But I’ve been avoiding writing about it because who wants to hear about that? Actually, that’s not the question. The question is “Who wants to hear about you being sad, Mary, for more than one post?” After all this time, I should know you better than that, my darling, but I suffer from wanting you to like me, wanting to entertain you, wanting to be Good. Though I “keep it real” here, how real do I allow myself to keep it? How real, really?

When I say I’m sad, I don’t mean I’m dealing with a sadness that won’t allow me to get up off the couch. That’s not where I am. (Well, okay: I am on the couch at this moment, but I just got back after a day at the newspaper office and a drink with a friend, so I’ve not been on the couch all day, which we all know is something that can and does happen, sometimes.) No, the quality of my sadness of late is something gnawing at me lately but isn’t eating me whole, I guess. But it’s slowing me down, keeping me from you for fear of letting you down, and it’s been making certain things harder.

I’m telling you now because if you’re feeling that way, you should know you’re not the only one.

It’s got a lot to do with culture. My friends, my friends. I’m afraid for us. We have become, it seems, a tribal society. If we don’t listen to each other, if we don’t try to understand, if we don’t swallow our ruinous pride from time to time, we’re doomed. My identity as an American is so foundational to this life I have. Thus, when I see this terrible political climate — everyone is implicated! both sides guilty and foolish! — it would be strange if I didn’t feel sad. Our country is aching, fighting, warring, hating, barbing, spitting mad. But…we’re brothers and sisters. Aren’t we? Aren’t we, after all, but you wouldn’t know it, looking at godforsaken Facebook. In this case, that is not a figure of speech: I think God has forsaken social media. It is a calamitous wasteland, a monster. I loathe it. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t dream of censoring it, but I see some of these Facebook comment pockets — and it matters not on which “side” they’re posted — I put my head in my hands.

I’m not better than anyone. That’s not it at all. It’s that I believe in the better angels of our nature and when angels forget our nature, I guess, it’s heartbreaking.

There. I’ve gotten it off my chest!

It’s been hard to write because even though I try to “keep it real” around here, even though I’m among friends, it’s still hard to be totally honest. Few people Instagram their terrible blemish, few people make Pinterest boards of ex-boyfriends, you know? But if I don’t tell you that a) I’m sad and b) why, then why would you come here? There are Pinterest boards for fantasies, Instagram accounts for pretty pictures 100% of the time.

Pendennis just looks at me, you know? He won’t let me get away with that for very long.

27 Responses

  1. Kathi Montoya
    | Reply

    I so agree with you…I am truly afraid that for our country…for sure we have lost our way.
    BUT…I will continue to craft art, to make beauty, to give of my heart and mind. Small gifts, but this is what I have…
    I have to remember Pandora; all we have is hope. A great thinker expressed this much better than I ever could: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

  2. Christine Houghton
    | Reply

    Mary, I totally agree. I just spent the last hour or more writing emails to three Republican Senators, in three states who can help us out in a big way by voting NO to the Healthcare Bill in the Senate. I just couldn’t sit here on my couch any longer without doing something to help our situation. Now I feel a little bit better, but I’m also still sad about how things are progressing politically. We do all need to work together no matter who we voted for or what party we belong to.. hopefully sooner than later. In the meantime I’ll be praying for a better outcome.

  3. Krista
    | Reply

    Thanks for keeping it real. I was just thinking today how easy it would be to just check out and give up – stop trying to advocate for rational discourse, the establishment of common ground, of the goal of both sides winning a little and losing a little. How has compromise become impossible in our society? Why are we so quick to discount each other and our needs? Why have I had to stop following so many friends and family on Facebook because I was becoming so angry or hurt, and now it seems like an echo chamber there and I don’t enjoy it. Why is it every time I turn around there is another disaster war or loved one with some horrible disease? IDK but I long for a reprieve. A sabbatical from the world, the culture wars and the wars with guns and bombs and the war with drugs or cancer or autoimmune. Sabbatical. Sabbath. Peace. A rest.

  4. Melody A.
    | Reply

    All TRUE! I am very sad over how things are as well. I was going to say neither side can hear the other but that isn’t really true, one side will not listen to anything that isn’t something they thought up and it is having a trickle down effect through our entire society , to the little town I live in of 500 people. so I understand what you are saying and why. Glad you did, thank you, I am sure it will make many of us feel less alone. take care of yourself, from Iowa

  5. Marcia
    | Reply

    Our better angels never forget to help the good ant truth work in us.
    The problems you mention are because we forget them.
    There’s a whole lot of forgetting going on.

  6. Lisa Miinch
    | Reply

    Totally get it……..People vent where they can’t be held accountable. I see it and refuse to participate. My thought is we are fortunate to live in this great country. We as a people, elect presidents, sit on juries, etc.. You may not get the results YOU want, but this is democracy and we should respect the proces and be supportive, It is shameful the way people behave.

    Life doesn’t allow. you to always get YOUR way. Sometimes,you have to suck it up Buttercup and keep your opinions to yourself! It’s not you Mary…….

  7. Susan
    | Reply

    Tremendously sad. Fighting mad. Pick any issue. It seems that there is no moderation any longer. It is one extreme or the other. The double-edged sword of social media is freedom and anonyminity. .

    I have found a modicum of peace by limiting my exposure to negativity, simply removing myself from whatever situation, whether be it social media, conversation, the news, whatever. I simply hold up my hand and declare “enough.” No one has yet held me down and forced me to remain in any such situation.

    Rather than engaging in the battle, I try each day to reach out with kindness. I can change the world. One smile, gesture or kind word at a time. It has to begin somewhere. This I can control.

  8. Susan
    | Reply

    Oops Mary please correct my spelling…

  9. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    You are far from alone on this feeling about our country. My husband stopped using FB because it got him so upset. I don’t watch news, what I hear on the radio and read + my imagination is enough to make me want to pull the covers over my head. The really sad part is that other than trying to be my kindeest all the time, I have no idea how to make the world, country,, state a better place. It’s ok to express your feelings on your blog. Afterall, that is why we come here.

  10. Carol Fosdick
    | Reply

    You are not alone in your struggles, I am right there with you. I rarely get on Facebook anymore because of the political crap. I don’t know the answer, but you definitely mirrored my feelings. We will get through this, and hopefully look back and laugh.
    Take care and know you are not alone.

  11. Barbara
    | Reply

    Mary, just be you, that is what I really like about you. You can tell me anything and I would not judge you. We all have feelings we want to tell other people and feelings we are afraid to and want to keep to ourselves. That’s okay. I’m open to hearing all, and listening. I’m a good listener, I try not to interrupt or tell my story. Continue on, and please be happy.

  12. Jen
    | Reply

    Heartbroken. Me too.

  13. Carmen
    | Reply

    I know what you mean about being sad about the state of things in our country- I’ve actually been pretty fearful about what the future holds for a while now. There’s so much anger and divisiveness and violence. I worry about what will happen when things come to a head. 🙁

  14. vickie
    | Reply

    Well said. The hate we see on a daily basis is sickening. I sometimes have to ‘fast’ from FaceBook and the ‘Net because it all seems so bad. Choosing to look at, listen to and be good isn’t always easy but it is possible. Namaste – I see light in you! Thanks for keepin’ it real, sweet Mary!

  15. Kathlene
    | Reply

    You speak for me too, Mary. I am sad too. But reading you makes me less sad. Thanks for all you do!

  16. Michele
    | Reply

    Thanks for this post, Mary. You capture what (I hope) many of us feel every day experience in the Land of the Coarse and Mean-Spirited. Why does it take a major natural disaster for people to shake off the rancor and start behaving themselves? I am starting to fear that even the charitable outbursts are just the posturing of the narcissistic. I so agree that Facebook gives us a place to shake our fingers at. But I have to wonder if Facebook has created this monstrous nation or if it has only pulled back the curtain and revealed it. Your voice is needed.

  17. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    There is a choir responding to you and we all have that same “Blue Funk” that makes you sad. It is a disease that has attack the marrow of our bones. I often think “Where is the humanity of man? Where are we headed and Do you even care?” So in my little world first thing in the morning, I get my cup of wonderful coffee with a touch of real cream and check my email. Before the news is on TV, before my husband rolls out of bed, I check my inbox to see if there is a letter from Mary. If there is, I smile. If not, I hope she is having an adventure. YOU DEAR LADY make my morning blossom. Thank you!

  18. Shonni D
    | Reply

    So true. I fight it within my own family. FB used to be a place to connect – to have fun – now it feels like I’m wading through a war zone with puppy and cat photos. BIZARRE to say the least. We get it, and many of us agree.

  19. Carol Hendrick
    | Reply

    Here’s a thought for the day about having a heart that is not bothered by STUFF. Thought it sort of applied to this discussion.

    Love to all.

  20. Shannan Sabby
    | Reply

    “Be the change you want to see in the world”… a paraphrasing of a quote from Ghandi. I think it’s part of the reason do what I do: I quilt, I volunteer, I love my family and friends, i wear my heart on my sleeve, I pray. I take into my world that which I want to embrace and I skim over the rest. All that negativity, all the BS – I skim. There will always be darkness and fear and doubt and stupidity, but there will also always be light and laughter and good and pretty fabric. I choose to live in the light. Maybe that makes me naive, but I’m blissfully so. I do me…

  21. MrsB
    | Reply

    I am right there with you. It got so bad I quit talking to my oldest, dearest friend. I was so weary of pulling her back from the cliff that it wore me out. I know enough now to recognize signs I need help coping.
    My wonderful doctor prescribed an RX that is helping.

    What a world we live in that it takes drugs to cope.
    I too fear for my country. Ben Franklin said something like ‘A Republic is the best form of government…. if you can keep it.’

  22. cindy
    | Reply

    Oh Mary, you speak for all of us….you are not alone. It’s a scary time and all we have is each other.
    I avoid news, politics, etc. as much as I can. I have unfollowed FB friends as I cannot tolerate their negativity and political garbage any more. Don’t need it in my day. YOU, on the other hand, are the bright spot in our day, even if you talk about something sad. Don’t ever stop talking Mary. We love you.

  23. Dawn Carnes
    | Reply

    I often wonder what I would have done had I been around for the gassing of the Jews, or the internment of the Japanese. Would I have been a part of the slave trade? I am here today. I want to live a peaceful calm quiet life devoted to my family and those hobbies I love. But, if I ignore the news and do not speak out againts atrocities, am I not part of them? I have a friend that only watches happy movies and avoids the news. She reads cheerful novels and does not get on social media. She is kind to those she meets, but, does not leave her neighborhood. I admire her for the calm quiet life she is assembling for herself. Shouldl I turn my face when a new atrocity is perpetrated? I fear if I do not keep track of what is going on around the world, I am helping evil to gain power. Is it not up to all of us to speak out? I don’t know who to attribute the quote to, but, I believe this to be true “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people should do nothing.” I have no answer. I read the posts on facebook too. I cannot believe the evil that exists there. I speak sometimes. I try to teach my children empathy and kindness and fairness and equality. But, is that enough? I wish I had the answer. If I knew what would work, I would climb the nearest mountain and start shouting. Listen to one another with kind ears. Be fair with your words. We must pray that those in power hear the bleeting of the least amongst us.

  24. Sarah
    | Reply

    Yes. This is a very discouraging time, when selfishness seems to be roaming triumphant. It is up to us who wish for better things for those who have so much less to keep on keeping on, to send letters & e-mails to those in power and to VOTE for change. Let’s not forget that while venues such as Facebook may allow for unedited spewing of hate, they also are essentially the guardians of a free press. We have a choice about what we read and at the same time can contribute our thinking and values without charge or being edited by someone who may not agree with our ideas. After we shed our tears, we can pull up our big girl panties and participate. Lucky us!

  25. Gail Sevilla
    | Reply

    So many good people worried about the country. That should mean something. We will not let our country fail as best we can. So glad you shared with us. It’s reasonable to be concerned. Try to keep moving forward though.

  26. Janet Moore
    | Reply

    I hear you, Mary. Standing right beside you. I find myself wishing for a deserted island where there is no internet, telephone, news, you name it. I belong to a FB group that (thank you God!) is well administered and full of people who support each other and find something to share that has nothing to do with politics. That is not to say we don’t have some sad things to talk about, but we talk, not yell at or over each other.

    I think we are all at that point of “if I just be nice and positive and friendly it will rub off on folks” but then we come across people that burst that balloon. The reality seems to me to be that we are desperately searching for what we need by providing it to others – a smile, a hug, a pleasant conversation.

    As long as we have a place to come where that smile and friendly voice is heard, I think we will be okay. I sure hope so.

    BTW: Love the hat – it was EXACTLY what I pictured for you, too!

  27. Deb Johnson
    | Reply

    Good people are having real problems with depression in this current political environment. I find it unbelievable that people can believe what they do and ignore facts and truth but I had to learn that it’s not my job to try to convince them. I learned that there are about 35% of the population who want to believe what they want and no amount of facts and proof will sway them, in fact, they’ll dig in further. My father had a great quote “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.” This helped me let go of a good amount of frustration.

    My 36 yr old daughter told me a story that well describes what drives the fear mongering that’s bearing fruit now: Three people (one rich/powerful, one middle class, and one poor/immigrant) are sitting in a bar and a plate of 10 cookies are placed in front of them. The rich/powerful man takes 9 cookies for himself and then whispers to the middle class person and says “hey that other guy has his eye on your cookie.” When fears are stoked and you are already shaken from a terrible recession and lay offs have taken a toll, it’s so easy to feel panic and distrust. Shame on the political party/pundits who fan the flames of those fears for their own profit. It creates a dangerous environment for our country.

    I do not confront, argue, inflame, or demean people who feel otherwise. I realize that it only makes things worse. As hard as it is at times not to, I can’t lash out. I don’t want to become the very intolerance that I so dislike.

    I do believe in what Dawn says…….. as good and honorable humans we must speak out against cruelty we witness or we risk being complicit. I truly believe in the wonderful poem written by Martin Niemuller about good honorable Germans during Hitler’s awful reign
    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    I have come to realize that I feel better if I do SOMETHING. So I stay informed, volunteer, give money to food banks in my city, go out of my way to say “hello, how are you” to everyone I pass and especially those I believe are immigrants. I show tenderness to the homeless and poor and relieve their pain in some small way if I possibly can, and stand strong as an example for those who don’t know what to do, I think we lead best by example anyway.

    I enjoyed the political chant “Love Trumps Hate”; it’s not as quick or as satisfying as giving in with retribution, but it is the only way to create real change over the long run and that’s what this country desperately needs right now. Love does not mean silence…….it means action in a way as not to make things worse but to bring people together.

    For years I have followed ‘Pay it Forward’ and it’s needed more than ever. Each kindness, each smile or wave, each loving action creates a ripple and the ripple travels farther than we can know. I even get the benefit of feeling better when I compliment a loving parent and their child, or thank someone who holds a door for me, or compliment the stranger wearing a happy outfit and hopefully they also feel better. I go out of my way to show kindness to those who don’t look or speak like myself. I truly feel that these little random acts of kindness can combat the current powers that be. It takes a village after all!

    I am sorry if I’ve come off as a know it all………. I’ve just wrangled with very issue, had counseling, learned from experience and with age and dearly want to give you some solace and support. You learn with age, that the saying “this too shall pass” is absolutely true. In the meantime, I feel it is our responsibility to do our part to ease the angst and pain of the victims of the anger we see around us and to take care of ourselves. I find joyful ways to spend some time each day.

    In the process, we take back our power and feel less helpless. In time, we can hope the angry people can rediscover their own inner angels but that is their “monkey”. It’s not my circus nor my monkey!

    Peace to all you good people and find the joy that exists all around us! It’s truly a wonderful world and this is our only go ’round! Please take a deep breath and enjoy the beautiful blue sky and the warm velvety breeze. I’m going to work on a quilt!

    Gentle loving hugs, Deb (Quiltbeeme)

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