I heard on the news that two children accosted a woman pushing her 13 month old baby in a stroller, demanded money, and when she said she didn't have any, they shot her twice and then murdered the baby in cold blood while he was sleeping. My immediate reaction was stark horror and I thought about Newtown, Connecticut, the movie theatre in Colorado, as well as other assorted massacres back to the school shooting in Columbine in 1999. When is it going to stop, I thought? And I pondered the futility of worrying about it when violence in one form or another seems to permeate our society and probably always has. Does it make any sense.? It is easy to go from there to wondering whether anything else makes sense. We lose loved ones from our lives in many ways, they move away, they grow up and leave us, they get mad and leave us, we just grow apart. We lose jobs, the economy breaks down, natural disasters overtake the best laid of our plans, and . . . well, I'm sure you know what I mean.
But then I stopped myself. I thought about last night when my 8 year old grandson came to my home office to show me the virtual town he has built and to point out the house he "built" for me right close to his own house -- "with my room close to the kitchen, so I can cook lots of good things." He was so happy about that, and so was I! And I thought about the new friend I had lunch with and am getting to know and what a joy it is to have her in my life and how much fun I had celebrating St. Patrick's Day with all of you. And what a joy it was to meet with 3 students from the business school at USC earlier this week who are interning with my financial advisor and who are clearly bright and capable young men who are going to do something good in our world. And I thought about my friend of more than 40 years who lives half the country away but who emails me almost every day so we can maintain our longstanding friendship in spite of the distance, and my wonderful companion animals who wait patiently for me every evening until I'm ready to sit with them and watch some TV [amazingly we have the same taste in programming!]. And I am looking forward to the UULM workshop that I'm helping to host tomorrow [it will be long over by the time you read this] and the good, important work it allows me to participate in, and the honor of being one of the participants in the installation of the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, and the joy of helping to celebrate a birthday for another friend this weekend. And I knew I have a choice!
We all do! We struggle through the mess of events and emotions that make up our lives on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, trying to make sense of them. That's what the fourth principle is about. The events don't point in a single direction and they don't create a clear-cut message that leads to an unequivocal 'meaning' for life. We can go either way. We can choose what we will focus on -- the good or the bad, the positive or the negative. We can decide that life has no meaning that it is all futility, frustration, disappointment, sadness, and pain. Or we can decide that it's filled with joy, loving relationships, satisfying work, meaningful encounters, and successful ventures. In either case we'll probably be wrong since every life I've ever known about, including my own, has all of that in it -- is a combination. But we get to choose what we focus on and how we define the balance. I have decided that I'm going to say "yes" to life and I hope you will to.
In the meantime . . .
may you Go shining, Karen