Who to Sacrifice to feel Joy?

The author Ursula LaGuinn wrote a short story titled The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. In it there is this town called Omelas where everyone feels joy all the time, people are happy, prosperous, and loved, but that euphoria the townspeople came at a price.

To feel joy in the town of Omelas the people must allow for one young child to be in misery and pain. The child is locked up in a room in a basement that’s no larger than a broom closet. The child is scared, maltreated, and alone forever. The child wails in pain, hides in fear, and starved for kindness.

It’s part of the deal for the town to prosper. This child must never feel joy. Everyone in the town knows about the child, but no one does anything to make the child’s life better. The townspeople make excuses. Making the child’s life better means making the townspeople’s life worse.

When the town’s youngsters reach their teenage years, they are encouraged to visit the child to learn the town’s “reason for happiness and prosperity,” but when they are shown the child in the closet and learn this child must live in pain, suffering, and starvation forever, their first reaction is anger or sadness. but given their well being, many come to accept the situation as necessary, but some empathetic souls question the community’s action or inaction. They must choose to go on living prosperously in the town accepting this atrocity or walk away from this nirvana forever.

LaGuinn’s, story feels strangely allegorical in these pandemic times. Should I accept that many more people should die from covid 19 in order to restart the economy so they can feel more joy, contentment, and well being? Or, do I do my best to follow the guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus and STAY AT HOME and suffer the sacrifices necessary so that more people can live?

Personally, I can only control my choices. I am responsible for my own actions to help not spread the virus. So, I promise myself to do these three things:

  1. I will follow the guidelines recommended by my doctors and elected leaders: to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash my hands and stay at home whenever possible.
  2. I will not give in to peer pressure by those who try and make me feel bad for following the guidelines. Instead I will use my integrity and “doing the right thing,” follow the guidelines.
  3. I will ask people to wear a mask in my present. I will stay my distance even as they get closer. A number of people have the mask with them. They just don’t put it on.

I see no joy in another’s death for the sake of my well being. Talking with individuals that caused another’s death either by accident or on purpose, I notice high stress; I see remorse and depression, even after ten years the incident.

Joy comes in the simple act of giving and caring for others. We see this around the Holidays.

I will adapt; I will persevere; and I will survive and do so by caring for the mortals around me.

In story LaGuinn’s story, not everyone accepts the situation of the little boy. Occasionally, adults go back and revisit the child and when they walk away they choose to keep walking away from the town. “They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman.”

I choose to walk away — six feet away from people, wearing a mask, or I can just stay at home.

Peace, Joy, Love

Finding Humor in Your Disasters

A new U.S. television series called The Baker and the Beauty has two supporting role characters that I like to watch more than the leading role characters. It’s Rafael and Mari Garcia, the mom and dad of Daniel Garcia. What makes them interesting to me is their attitude toward their relationship, their children and their life experiences — good and bad..

The Garcia’s owns a bakery, which if you know anything about bakeries you know they are a struggle, but though they struggle and tensions flare slightly, they always come back to what’s important, each other and life and more often then not, they use humor to get them through.

In the second episode, the bakery oven breaks down when they have chance to make an impression on a prominent food critic. They try to fix it, but in the end, instead of yelling at each other the mom and dad start laughing about it.

Two children stand dumbfounded at their parents respond to disaster. When the oldest asks, “Why they are not more upset and yelling and screaming.” The mom replies “Sometimes you just have to laugh.”

I agree. Sometimes you just have to laugh. It’s healthier to laugh than to anger. Yelling and allowing my tension to ooze into the environment does little to help any situation and does more harm to the people around me.

I had a minor disaster this morning — lost money in the stock market.

My wife could feel my tension even though I never said a negative word. My tone and facial expression spoke volumes of what happened.

She, in turn, picked up the tension and her voice and body language mirrored mine — how sad.

I’ve come to realize my mom modeled how to raise one’s tension over even a minor disaster like lost keys. As a kid, her yelling added to my tension and left me feeling like it was my mistake.

After our breakfast, I I tried it this morning after I meditated.

Three things that help me get to joy in times of disaster

One, I choose in my mind to look at my situation with a little humor.

“Just because you’re miserable, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life.”

Psychologist Annette Goodheart 

Thoughts are just that, thoughts. I can choose which thoughts to bring into my mind, which one’s to hang on to , and which ones to let go. It’s my choice.

In my mind, I have grabbed onto my negative thoughts and let them bring me down. In my mind, I’ve projected horrible outcomes for my life, but my mind, I’ve reflected back on regretful choices.

Never did my dwelling on these thoughts ever help me be a better person, but the opposite. Meditation and the practice of choosing which thoughts to pursue in my mind helps me grow in real life. Sometimes it’s humorous thoughts because my mom’s modeling is hardwired into me.

When I looked back at my folly of thinking I could beat the stock market this morning and instead of anger with my decision making, I switched my mind to use humor to look at my poor decision. And instead of berating myself mentally, I took the experience as a lesson.

Two, I surround myself with people that have a little humor in tough situations.

 “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn

You know these people. When you get off the phone or finish a conversation you feel uplifted. Sometimes they make you laugh even at your own mistakes. Yes, they may have a bit of “pollyanna” but sometimes we need that.

Call up someone you know is positive and maybe funny and see what happens to your mood.

Three, I choose to watch or listen or read to things that make me laugh.

“People throughout history have used humor, stories, music, dancing to cope with human tragedy,”

 Melina McLain

My wife always said if she got cancer, she would watch I Love Lucy reruns 24/7. No show ever made her laugh so hard or made her feel so good, but each one of us has a different idea of what’s funny.

On the internet I see people asking for cartoons or pictures that are funny because they need a little humor in their life — like now — and people respond to their need. We all get to laugh, then.

What shows or movies make you laugh and change you mood. I found this Funny Videos site. It made me smile. This activity is more passive and, I believe, the least effective of improving one’s attitude, but it’s still an option.

Humor helps keep me from spiraling down he rabbit hole of despair in my mind.

I look for songs the put a smile on my heart

It was Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning that brought this to my attention when he said, ““Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Include humor to help get though a tough time.

Peace, Joy, Love