Sometimes, I get a bit stymied, overwhelmed by the horrifying atrocities that I witness in the world. I’m not advocating avoiding the witness of those events or of taking action to stop them. But there are times when I become lost in these things. I despair. And then I become stilled, muddled and confused by my smallness.
One of the first things we do as babies is mimic the facial expressions of those we can see with our developing field of vision. This nerve-empathy is a sort of hard wiring for our psychological empathy–imagining the emotional or mental states of those around us. When we see people smile, our faces generally begin to mimic the expression before we are fully conscious of it. This is why the yawn test can pick out those inclined toward sociopathic behavior. They won’t yawn, not even a little. The point of that ramble is–what happens if we surround ourselves with people who do not smile, who are cold, wrapped up in their own concerns? Do we get a little out of practice? Perhaps, sometimes, just a little. I think there’s merit in that idea.
To that end, I have decided to expose myself to images of unbridled, and unselfconscious joy every day. If I have solitary days where I don’t see anyone, I’ll seek out giggly pictures for myself. The interwebs are overbrimmed with images of adorable baby animals and small children frolicking randomly. Because I’ve forgotten how to be glad for no reason. I’ve been awash in horror and tragedy and inequity so frequently, that I forgot to refuel my happy tanks, so that I can go on looking at the dark mirror of my own species and my own soul. I have so much to be thankful for, to be happy about–and I should be using that to fortify myself against what’s wrong–in my world and that beyond my private universe. I have so much work to get done, so much I need to repair and clear out. It’s no time to sit still, locked up by my sense of helplessness.