In the span of a few minutes yesterday morning, I read about a shotgun-wielding man threatening a neighbor teaching his daughter to ride her bike, watched a GoPro video from a mountain biker in Cape Town getting robbed at gunpoint on a trail and read a report that the earth is on the brink of a great extinction.
I wondered, What the hell’s the point of me recycling my peanut butter jar, or conserving water or riding my bike instead of driving somewhere? If the world’s turning into the kind of place where you can’t even teach your kids to ride a bike without getting threatened, I mean, jeez. Especially if it’s all on the brink of extinction anyway.
Maybe it’s the 24-hour news cycle, or the fact that “if it bleeds, it leads” still guides news, or that Internet comments are most times the absolute rock bottom of human interaction, but it seems some days it’s very easy to find negative things out there. Plus traffic, plus deadlines and work, plus bills, plus everything else we have to deal with. Sitting down at a desk is going to kill you, and stress is going to kill you, and breakfast sandwiches are going to kill you, LIFE is going to kill you.
When I find myself in a down spot, I remember one of my favorite tweets ever, from @shitmydadsays:
Moreso the second sentence than the first, that yes, why would you go set up a nice picnic next to a pile of dog shit? Of course many of us do, metaphorically. This sandwich is great, but it would be better if it that baby across the room wasn’t crying. Sounds like things are going well at work, Bob, but how can I steer this conversation to where we can talk about which political party I think is causing all the world’s problems? We channel Eeyore instead of remembering that, as Ed Abbey wrote, “it is an honor and a privilege to be alive, however briefly, on this marvelous planet we call Earth.”
I used to read movie reviews in a certain newspaper in order to figure out what I wanted to see, and it seemed like nothing ever impressed a certain writer. This movie was good, but several things were wrong with it, or another movie was funny, but several of the characters were underdeveloped, or one scene was less than believable, or there was this small hole in the plot. After a while, I realized this certain movie critic was making me want to not go see movies. And I like movies. I wanted to write him and ask, “Do you even like movies? It seems like you hate them.” I couldn’t remember a single movie he had enjoyed. So I stopped reading his, and started reading Roger Ebert’s, because that guy loved movies (rest in peace), and when I read his reviews, I wanted to go to a movie.
There are a lot of things wrong with the world. There are 8 billion people on the planet, and plenty of terrible things are happening. Maybe those things are legitimate cause for worry, or action, or at least consideration. But sometimes they’re only worth consideration, and worrying isn’t going to make a bit of difference besides add to your worries in an otherwise pretty good life. Surrounding that one pile of dog shit is a beautiful park with a lot of places to set up your metaphorical picnic.