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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Under the Blanket

The other morning sleep stalked me well past my usual rising. It was one of those under the blanket days—when I simply could not muster the enthusiasm to take on what the world was dishing up in great quantities—namely a lot of bleak news. I am sure I am not alone, any rational person must at times feel oppressed by the daily inundation of strife, negativity and sheer outright stupidity disguised as principled viewpoint that awaits us each morning. Dorothy Parker, long a favorite of mine, is famously credited with inventing the phrase “what fresh hell is this”? her standing response to the ring of the telephone or doorbell. Dorothy clearly had a keen grasp of the vagaries of life in these modern times.


Now I don’t want to leave the impression that every day begins with the gloomies, far from it, but now and again I do find it hard to rise above the stream of ugly, dispiriting and heartbreaking acts we humans visit upon one another in the name of such things as nationalism, religion, racial purity, patriarchy, and plain old greed. Of course, this is nothing new, and were Ms. Parker scribing during the Mycenaean age she might as well have exclaimed “ti diáolo eínai aftó? sta archaea”? or something to that effect, inasmuch as the ancient Greeks did not have the same sense of heaven and hell as we moderns do. In fact, it wasn’t a place or even a state of being. Hades was a god and caretaker of the dead not—as some might suggest-- the causer of death, whose job was to ensure the dead would be safe from returning to the land of the living. One might suppose, the ancient Greeks, like some of us, had mixed feeling about the overall jollity of daily life in their day.


Returning to the present, I have learned that on those rare days when I am feeling oppressed, depressed, and sick of hearing about the latest sad tidings, the best approach is to indulge myself in some life affirming adventure. These can take many forms, a walk in nature, sitting on a beach watching waves, or tackling some long put-off project. What do these have in common? They restore a sense that the world is a very big place that has been around a very long time and has seen as bad or worse than the present state of affairs. Finishing a project –especially one I have dreaded or lacked the energy to undertake restores my sense of balance. I may not be able to do much about the many things troubling the world but I can at least fix something—make it new again and put that one thing right.


The point is that we humans, despite our ability to create disproportionate harm and destruction are, when all is said and done, pretty insignificant creatures. The universe is so much greater and more powerful than we can ever be. We can make life miserable for our fellow humans, and mess up our planet to be sure, but whatever project the universe is embarked upon isn’t done yet. I am fairly certain it will turn out as it is supposed to, even if I won’t be around to see it.


With that perspective in mind I am no less exercised by the wrongs we do to one another, but less fatalistic about the persistence of goodness. You read that correctly—I still believe in goodness and what is more I believe it does and will triumph over any and every thing we do confound it. And if we humans appear to be headed in the wrong direction at times I have little doubt the universe will set us straight in the end.


“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it…..always.” Mahatma Ghandi

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