Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
Hangovers. We who partied hearty with the demon alcohol probably remember them well. And it is good that we do lest the allure of the good times overshadows the misery of the bad times. I continue to have drunk dreams occasionally and I welcome them as my Higher Power’s blessing. Those dreams keep me in touch with the reality of alcoholism.
We can also experience emotional hangovers. This past weekend all the excitement of worldwide “marches for our lives” built up to a crescendo of incredible hope for a humanity free of violence. The millions who participated displayed an energy uncommon in our society, one that brought together like-minded brothers and sisters who value the sanctity of all life over the various interpretations of citizens’ rights. The young speakers were amazing, the crowds were peaceful, and a sense of dignity for all humanity governed the atmosphere.
Then, later that evening, the disparaging tweets, comments, and hatred filled our airways and moved across our viewing screens. Yes, it was an amazing day, but now the reality of what we are as a society hit with a vengeance. The emotional hangover set in. Once again we faced the truth of a world which says that even as voices concerned with species survival speak peace, governments and government agents do not, the powerful do not, and those lost in the darkness of self do not. They thrive on discord and discontent.
At these moments I have a decision to make. 1) Forsake my truth to venture into their world of strife or 2) grab onto the power which leads me into a place of green pastures and still waters. President and Mrs. Obama called it “taking the high road”. Oprah defined it as “not giving power to negativity.” It’s one of the Buddha’s teachings: observe the thoughts that pass through our minds, do not dwell, do not judge, just allow them to be and then pass on. My serenity depends on preserving an inner sanctum, a space within where the world’s activity is observed and then dismissed.
That emotional turmoil does not need to be the controlling factor in life. That muck of strife and discord does not need to be wallowed in. Recognize it and then allow it to pass. Know it is out there, but don’t participate in its life-sucking discourse. That is what the Obamas, Oprah, and the Buddha encouraged us to do. Instead of wallowing, set a course on positive, empowering energy which will encounter and conquer that which is dehumanizing and hateful.
A childhood Sunday School ditty says it all: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.