Some Things are Right with the World

It has been a long two weeks, and I am worn out. I am suffering from scrutiny overload; diligently dissecting discussions, carefully criticizing comments, and evaluating … well, everything. Editorials, opinion pieces, news reports, blogs, SNL skits, and Facebook posts. Don’t get me wrong. It is important to be informed. It is imperative we investigate the actions of those in places of power and influence, and speak up when we disagree and find those actions out of step with our beliefs and core values. That is a good thing.

And there has been much to question lately about what it means to be an American. I don’t want us to ever stop pondering those principles.

But I am weary. And I think it is because I can’t seem to turn off this hyper-vigilant scrutiny. My critical eye has become so fine-tuned, my skills so sharply honed, that I am prepared to offer that kind of analysis at all times: to my family, coworkers, friends, service providers. No one seems to be doing things quite right these days.

I need a break. And I thought you might, too.

So, here are some things that are right with my world:

• First-grade art students painting and weaving paper strips and then cutting them into hearts. And then melting my heart with their school glue sticky hugs just because I was lucky enough to drop in at the right time and lend a hand. • Residents at a local nursing center who always remember to ask me about my classes and then tell me I can do it and they are proud of me. • Guests at CityLight, a local outreach to those experiencing homelessness and poverty, who always come back to the kitchen and say how thankful they are, and whose smiles amidst real, daily struggles inspire and convict me. • Pre-dawn walks under bright starry skies, even when your breath is visible. • Sandal-wearing-porch-swinging days in February. • Neighbors eating a meal together and conspiring about ways to improve their neighborhood. • Youngsters planning a sock hop for their older neighbors confined to a nursing center. • A local coffee shop and some good fiction, or maybe a chat with a fellow tea-sipper. • Rosie’s hugs every time you pass her wheelchair -- just in case -- because she can’t remember if she hugged you yet or not. • Laughing out loud – and not at anyone’s expense. • The boundless hospitality of some neighbors on Sunday nights. • Family that is more loving and patient than I deserve.

An acquaintance who struggles with depression and anxiety asked me in a text how I deal with fear of the future and feeling lonely. I quickly responded with the maybe too-pat answer of “find some people who inspire and encourage you and spend time with them, and then find some ways that you can be useful.”

Now I would add, take a good hard look at all that is right with the world.

If you need to, make a list.