Sometimes it seems as though all the news is difficult. The oil in the Gulf of Mexico just won't stop spilling. A dear friend of mine who has been struggling with chronic pain for months had surgery a few weeks ago to relieve it and is healing much more slowly than she wants to be. Another friend's mother is dying, more quickly than they anticipated. I have family members who are struggling financially and when I turned NPR on this afternoon, they were interviewing a 55 year old woman who has been out of work for two years after being laid off of a job she had for 30. Still another family we know is struggling to understand what is wrong with their daughter after years of invasive testing, and coming to grips with the harsh reality that 'recovery' is not an option at this point.
When I open my email or check the news website I like the best, I often brace myself first, awaiting the body blow of a possible morsel of bad news. I feel incredibly impotent in the face of it all. From my perspective in the Pacific Northwest, the water I'm drinking is clear and the beaches tar-free. My family members are all in good health and we are lucky enough to have sufficient food on our table and enough money to pay the bills every month for now. I know that this could change without warning, but with every bit of difficulty I hear about for those I care for, my life stands out in stark comparison just a little more.
A therapist I once had reminded me that making comparisons is a dangerous business and she was right. When I look at strangers and imagine that they are infinitely more capable, intelligent, centered individuals than I and beat myself up for inviting drama and tragedy in by being useless, I am falling in to the comparison trap. But it occurs to me that I am doing the same when I look at my relatively stable, carefree life in comparison to those around me who are struggling. Do I wish we were struggling, too? Just to make it even? Just to not "rub it in" that we aren't dealing with illness and death? No, not really. Do I wish that my loved ones, friends and family and strangers in Louisiana and the other gulf states weren't dealing with these difficult times right now? Yup. Certainly, but there isn't really anything I can do to change that.
So for now I think I'll just gather up the extra love and light coming from my clan, scoop in the strength and resilience we are lucky enough to be enjoying right now, and offer it up to the Universe. I hope she directs it to the right places. I trust she will. Feeling guilty for my happiness right now isn't helping anyone. Maybe this gift, the only one I truly have to offer, will.