Yesterday I was chatting to a couple of friends on their deck and I was trying to get myself comfortable in the patio chair and I must have been grimacing pretty hard as I adjusted my legs because they asked if I was okay. I was surprised and said I was fine and one friend said I looked like I was suffering greatly from something and I quipped: “Oh no, just life”.
The look of pity they gave me was extraordinary, and I didn’t know what to do with it. There was an awkward silence before we moved the conversation on to unrelated things.
But of course a major truth lies in that joke. I am suffering from life. Most everyone does who are real with themselves and face the truth (the couple I was talking to gain a lot of comfort and joy from their Christianity, and good for them, but I can’t be religious, however much I yearn to have faith in something).
So here it is: I’m not okay and I never will be okay. But THAT is okay. Because the only way I can be okay is by ignoring everything about the world that upsets me. And, sure, I’m able to do that when I need to, I distract myself from what pains me, and about 70% of the time I live with an optimistic spirit because I don’t wish to be caught up in and dragged down by the cynicism of the world – it doesn’t serve me, just makes me more bitter and closed off and the less I open up to the world, the less it opens up to me in return. I know that the more I can open myself up and be vulnerable and compassionate and love the world and everything in it the better, because even if it is never reciprocated by the person or thing I direct it to, I know from experience that when you love in the right way, what goes around comes around.
But it’s hard sometimes to act like that when you think that humankind is generally a screwed up species and has really gone so far into the realm of screwing up the entire world that it might do well to just blow the whole thing up in one go, and let some other species have a go at being the leader.
When I am in a good place and experience the world as full of love and feel joyful and really alive, something always happens pretty soon to bring me down to earth again…
The last time I felt like that, I spent an hour lying on my bed, smiling, sending private wishes and prayers to all my loved ones for their specific pains to lessen and their wishes to be fulfilled. There was so much love in my heart for all of them, and for all the people who I had not had the chance to meet but who could maybe get something positive from some general good vibes being put into the atmosphere.
What happened the next day? A passenger plane was downed by a missile fired in a war that had nothing to do with anyone on that plane, everybody blamed each other, information was held back from the public as the people who did it covered their tracks…the real truth of what happened is unlikely ever to come out, then Israel invaded Gaza and it felt like basically the whole world had decided to have a meltdown.
And my heart broke at how fucked up the world can be and how little anyone can do about any of this on any practical scale. And even as I accepted that time flows and whatever is happening has to happen for the next bit to happen (whatever that is), I just was so saddened over the fact that we’re all basically just pawns in a game we have so very little control over.
So. When people ask me if I’m okay, on that nice superficial small-talk level, what am I to say? “Define okay?”. I know I should just say a simple “I’m fine,” so long as nothing in particular is bothering me personally in the situation I’m in at the moment that they ask. But I’m not and never will be okay so long as I care about other people and what’s happening on a global scale as much as I do about myself and my own little world.
And that is okay. It has to be okay. Because if my caring about other people’s lives ever completely stopped, I really would be so far from okay that it couldn’t be joked about.