Letting Go of the Darkness to Embrace the Light

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
What's the old saying?  "A bad day fishing is better than a good day working".  One bad day doesn't mean you have a bad life. There's probably many more but you get the idea, don't write off something big just because something small goes wrong.  I'm not a gambler but I know plenty of folks who go to a casino again and again, even after having a losing day - or many.  Sports fans don't give up on their favorite team because they're having a losing streak.  Yet some days it feels to me as though that loyalty, that ability to overlook the bad in order to appreciate the good doesn't apply to people.  As a society, especially during this pandemic, it feels everyone is ready to throw in the towel, sling mud and jump on the bandwagon of hate.

I grew up at a time when the phrase, "Children are to be seen and not heard" was popular.  I was also taught, "if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything".  It was also widely accepted that people didn't talk religion, finances or politics.  Social media has pretty much thrown all those rules of etiquette out the proverbial window.  That has never been the case more than right now, during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Everyone is scared, angry, frustrated and helpless; everyone looking for someone to blame.  Emotions are high and they're unleashed in every direction, especially on social media.  What used to be an escape from day-to-day reality is now a dumping ground for spewing personal feelings and the typical, nonsensical funny memes and family photos have been replaced by politically driven rants.
Don't get me wrong, I get it.  I'm upset I can't spend time with family, can't pick out my own groceries, can't visit my mom.  I'm upset for my grandchildren who are missing school, their friends, their extracurricular activities, dance recitals, etc... I'm worried for my son-in-laws who are both on temporary furloughs, and my daughter whose work load has drastically reduced.  Still, we are all financially sound and healthy but even so, this pandemic is the elephant in the room that is squashing life as we all know and love it.   I get the emotional response, but what I don't get is how we have gotten to this place in history where we all feel free to spew hate and anger towards everyone and anyone on social media.  I've seen friends who I've come to know as mild-mannered, gentle natured, kind individuals spouting the most vile and angry comments - towards anyone, about anyone, anytime.  America has taken its constitutional right to free speech to a level that would make my ancestors ashamed and sad.  There was a time, a time not so very long ago, when we would hold back our personal beliefs and opinions so as not to hurt or insult people we respected.  We might have disagreed or disliked their political views but most of us would never have outwardly opposed them in the way that is done today. Today Americans believe it is not just their 'right' to an opinion, but it is their duty to share that opinion, and many times that sharing is done in a mean, disrespectful manner. Have you read the comments on Facebook posts lately?  People aren't neutral or even tempered in their comments, they're emotionally charged in one direction or another, quick to add their unedited, unrestrained two cents, unashamed or concerned what others might think.  People are polarized in their beliefs and everyone's feels compelled to voice their opinion.  It's like people are powerless over the urge to fight.
I have never been a 'politically minded' individual, nor am I today but I have to admit that I have been much more in tune with politics during this administration than most others.  I'm not sure what has brought us to this current attitude about freedom of speech, but I can't help but believe that having a President of the United States that routinely ridicules and mocks politicians, media, professionals and others isn't part of the blame.  Call me old school, but I was raised in a time when a president was a person of integrity and dignity, someone to look up to.  Regardless of how good or how bad President Trump is or how much he has helped or not helped this country, my opinion is that he sets a very poor example for the American people.  What comes from that childish, disrespectful behavior results in a difficulty to see the truth through the b.s. and I think to a degree makes it hard, if not impossible, to focus on much of anything else.  At least for me....an only child among adults as a kid from a parochial school where nuns made you fear overstepping in any slight way....it's hard to overlook the snarky, rudeness enough to see a leader behind the persona. For a moment consider this.....if our kids or grandkids spoke to us or their peers the way he does, they'd be reprimanded - at least in my day.  Yet this man routinely, almost daily, insults and ridicules anyone who disagrees with him.  I know it isn't just about him, it's probably been a long time coming, this loss of respect for others in society.  I also know my grandparents would be so ashamed and angered at the state of the world today.
Not only are people exercising their freedom of speech, everyone has become so judgmental, so unforgiving.  This has come to my attention recently when watching everyone's various reactions to Governor Cuomo.  Even in the middle of a global crisis, many New Yorkers are so focused on what they dislike about Cuomo that they automatically discard his efforts to manage a pandemic.  No matter what people do, it's never enough to erase the past, deserve some grace or elicit forgiveness.  Again, it's that almighty right to our opinion, no matter what the expense.  Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm not judgmental enough, maybe I'm just too easy going, but I don't have the energy or instinct to allow so much anger and hate to live inside me.  I feel calmer and happier when I look for the good in people, when I am able to extend grace and forgiveness and release the pain.  I'd want people to do that for me so how can I not do that for them?  Let's face it, we all are a mixed bag of good and bad.  But aren't we lucky our bad days aren't the subject of the media, aren't written for the world to judge, aren't held against us for decades.  Shouldn't people be judged by their best days and not their worst days?  If not, what incentive do prisoners have to rehabilitate?  What incentive do children have to improve their behavior?  What incentive does anyone have to make their future different if all we see and judge is their past?
If God didn't give us second chances, where would we be?  We'd be burning in the fires of hell.  I'm grateful for the people at the front lines, the doctors and nurses, the police and fireman, all of the essential workers.  They are the bright light in this dark time, they are my saving grace and reminder that despite all the anger and hate that is so visible in the world, there is still good, still people who live to spread love and positive outcomes, people who feel compelled to do good.  There is so much good, so many heroes getting us through this crisis.  Thank God Facebook has settings that allow us to unfollow or snooze because right now what I need is joy and love and encouragement and peace.  And I think I'm not alone in that.  Let's focus on people's best days, not their worst days and let's give others the grace we need ourselves.  Let's keep our anger to ourselves and let's go back to the days when if we don't have something positive to contribute, we refrain from fueling the fire.  Let's pull people up instead of pushing them down.  Let's be a positive example to each other and let's do it for our future generations.  Let's do it now!

Backyard Birds Ignoring Social Distancing Guidelines in the Season of Courtship

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
The humans on the planet may be practicing social distancing, but our feathered friends have their minds on courtship.  I've had plenty of time to bird watch from the comfort of my family room and trust me when I say my well-fed friends have provided plenty of much needed entertainment and distraction.  While the world and social media is filled with fear, frustration and political dissension, Mother Nature is focused on what matters and that, my friends, is love.  There's no shortage of courtship going on and I've captured a little of it here for you today.  I hope it reminds you of what's important....today and everyday.

Sometimes when I'm shooting photos through an open window, through a small opening in a bird-blind my husband fashioned out of cardboard, it feels as though the birds are on to me and often strike a pose on my behalf.  See if you don't agree.....

Others just ignore me..

This is a magical time for birding and I'm lucky to have so many varieties visit my feeders year round.  Last year was the first year that I had the thrill of bluebirds and they spent the whole winter here but disappeared for summer and fall.  Out of 3 pair that stuck around all winter, I have one pair left. I've got fingers crossed that they might nest here.  Last year was also the first year I had Baltimore Orioles and I'm anxiously waiting their return.  If you love birds and want to see more, check out my blog Directory (https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/p/directory.html) and scroll down to the Animal Friends category for many more bird posts. 
I hope today's post brought you a little distraction, and maybe a bit of joy and hope, during this period of isolation and worry.  I also hope you are staying in and staying well.  Thanks for stopping by and letting me share a little Life As I See It!  Come back soon!

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