Helena Handbasket

***Full disclosure: I first posted this on facebook, but I’m re-posting it because it’s important. Also, I’ve added a few things.

Today, I came to a very important realization. When it comes to looking at the world in all its miraculously flawed beauty, there really are only three major attitudes one can adopt.

First, there are those who can’t seem to look at the world around them without constantly focusing on what’s wrong, what’s unfair, or what’s missing. They see political corruption, moral ambiguity and tragedy and they say, “This world is going to crap. Good people should fear for their lives and buy as much gold as they can because the end is nigh.” I can’t help but feel sorry for these people, because they live in a nearly constant state of fear, anger or shock and moral outrage.

Then there are the ones who think they can make the world a better place, if they just refuse to look at anything that makes them sad. Essentially, this is the “out of sight, out of mind” method of survival. The only problem with this is, even if you do manage to successfully create a safe, pain-free world where there’s no violence or swearing on the TV, no immorality, no crime, and no dishonesty, you will eventually have to step outside into the world where the things that you ignore are a constant reality. When that day comes, I wonder, how will you survive?

Finally, there are those who choose to see it all–the good, the bad and the ugly truth of it all–and to live in a constant state of genuine awareness, pragmatic caution, and exuberant curiosity. These people remain educated about the dangers, but choose to focus on the good things, like laughter, knowledge, light, love..

Today, I am reminded of this lesson by a terrible, senseless tragedy. But what might happen or what has happened can never change the fact that we were put on this earth to make CHOICES. I firmly believe that perspective is one of those choices.

***Now, in recent news, there’s been a lot of hoopla about the recent oil crisis, middle eastern conflicts, political lies, international business scams, secret addictions/pacts/planning committees/second families/indiscretions etc etc and so on and so forth ad nauseum. For me, at least, this changes nothing. For those who live with their eyes fully open, the world has always been a place where deception hides in plain sight and betrayal lurks around nearly every corner. Is this what some might call a “jaded” perspective? Probably. Yes.

But I choose to look at the glass as half full. Or, in another light, as a glass that is more full of Diet Coke than it is of crude oil. So far. Yes, this is one of the greatest if not the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and some might spend their time mourning the incompetence/impotence/blatant recklessness that the oil companies have all been getting away with–pretty much scot-free, whatever the hell that means–for decades… or they might feel the need to point out the fact that our nation’s greatest scientific and political minds are essentially now playing a GIGANTIC, worldwide game of “I know you are, but what am I?” a la second grade playground politics. Or they might even look at the (TELEVISED and RECORDED) speeches given by our whatever in chief several years ago and think, “Huh. Did he KNOW he was being recorded when he said that? Or does he honestly think US citizens are a bunch of dumb hicks who don’t know how to google sh*t?” But that would be counterproductive, and would probably raise our collective blood pressure. And that’s unhealthy.

So for now, with no visible end in sight to any of the aforementioned “issues,” let me offer an insight that might not be philosophically brilliant or earth-shatteringly original, but will probably make your life a little easier:

Instead of pointing at the side-effects and saying “oh look, there’s another rash of problems we can’t solve” or “I feel like vomiting because there’s so much sickness–in every sense of the word–on the planet” do me a favor. Quit your hysterical sobbing, take a few deep breaths, and stop scratching that because you’ll only make it worse. When you’ve finally calmed down to the point where logic and common sense reign over your faculties, I want you to ask yourself a question:

What am I going to do differently from now on?

Therein, my friends, lies the secret of a better world. One person at a time.