Last night, I stumbled a bit on the Internet and fell down the wrong rabbit hole. Have you ever seen something you wish, desperately, you hadn’t? That is just what happened to me. I saw a picture of someone smiling after committing an act that was, in my opinion, unspeakably cruel. The smile on this person’s face … the pride and joy at their “accomplishment” shining from their eyes … their joking words, which seemed to belittle what they had done, or, even, find humor in it. Every little bit of it was terrible and awful, and I wish I had never clicked the link. I didn’t go looking for this picture. I clicked a link to what I thought was a news story, but, even so, the picture found me.
Do you ever find yourself going along your merry way and thinking that, maybe, the world isn’t such a terrible place? I’m a fairly positive person. I tend to look on the bright side of things and count all the little, beautiful blessings in my life. I like to look at the world in wonder at the tiny miracles that are all around us. At the beauty and the grace of it all. And I find myself thinking, “Hey, this world isn’t so bad. It’s actually quite lovely in spots.”
But then, something smashes right up against my psyche with all the tact and force of a speeding Mack truck, and I am reminded that meanness and cruelty and brutal ugliness abound in the world around me. It becomes harder to see the blessings, and the miracles seem to become even smaller, until I feel they can never possibly outweigh the bad things that are out there. That picture was a Mack truck to my mind. I think my soul died, just a little bit, upon seeing it. I wish I could bleach the image from my brain, but I can’t. It’s in there. Forever.
I feel … sad. And small. And woefully inadequate to face the world today. I feel even more inadequate at the thought that, somehow, I have to guide my own child through a world filled with hate and meanness and the type of cruelty that eats away at our humanity, bit by bit. I wish I could tell myself to forget the whole thing and just crawl back into bed to hide away under the covers all day. It feels safe there.
But I can’t hide away. The world is out there, waiting for me to try and do my own part, small as it is, to make it a better place. The world is out there, full of terrible, awful, horrible, no-good things and people. But it’s also full of beauty. It’s full of grace and love and the kind of tiny miracles that take my breath away each and every day.
And so, I will still feel sad. But I will fill my mind with flowers and love and joy so that the terrible thing I saw might, one day, fade a little. I will remind myself that cruelty might exist, but that it doesn’t have to exist within me. I will live. I will love. I will do my best. Because that’s all I have, and because it’s enough.