The headlines are pretty dark and grim these days. But what do we do with that?
In other words, how do we respond to the tragic nature of life?
We know it doesn’t help to simply live in denial…or to be paralyzed by fear and anxiety. But there is another approach.
The story is told that Mohammed hired a man to show up each morning at his study and tell him, “Today could be your last!” This was Mohammed’s way of reminding himself of the brevity of life; reminding himself to live and pay attention to what truly matters. After several days of this, Mohammed told the man, “You don’t need to come any more. I’ve learned the lesson.” To which the man replied, “Oh, please let me keep performing this task every day. You see, I need it.”
In other words, I can use the knowledge of tragedy and death to enhance my ability to live fully and compassionately and joyfully each day.
I wake up, go to the mirror. If I can fog the mirror, it’s a good day. A day to live!
Zorba captures that attitude in Zorba the Greek:
“I’ve stopped thinking about yesterday and I don’t think about tomorrow. I say to myself, ‘Zorba, what are you doing right now?’ ‘I’m eating.’ “Well then, eat well Zorba!’ ‘Zorba, what are you doing right now?’ ‘I’m working.’ “Work well, Zorba.’ ‘Zorba, what are you doing now?’ ‘I’m kissing a woman.’ ‘Then kiss her well, Zorba. Don’t think about anything else. Just get on with it!’”
In bad times, it’s tempting to hunker down and postpone life until good times return.
But we weather bad times better if we remember to drink from the wellspring of the joy of living each day. If we find and create joy in daily things—in spite of circumstances.
This is not about living in denial, or ignoring facts. We should keep our eyes and ears open and prepare wisely.
But it’s also important to keep our spirits up. Remembering joy, remembering to live each day will help us do that. And it will help us be an encouraging presence to others.
Fortunately, joy is as infectious as any virus. So in times like this, we can fight back by carrying the joy virus and infecting as many as possible.
One way to start: share this message!