An Insular Life

Day two of reacting to and interacting with only that which is before my eyes was lovely. Elsewhere, there were sorrows and tragedies, nasty political commentaries, and . . . well, problems too numerous to mention, but here, in my insular world, the sun shone warmly, lizards scampered in the desert, rabbits lolled on the lawn, and a trio of ravens silently chased each other above the treetops, the only sound the loud whooshing of their wings.

A perfect day. Others did not have the option of such a perfect day, of course, but in the end, I can’t worry about them. All I can do is live is my own life.

Besides, does knowing all that is going on the world really help anyone? Maybe we aren’t supposed to be global people, feasting on the news like scavengers, emoting about things that couldn’t possible touch us. Chaos theory tells us that everything does touch us (the flap of a hypothetical butterfly wing in Hong Kong supposedly affects weather halfway around the world), but the effects may not be felt for a very long time, too long to matter.

I think about rural peoples in days of yore who seldom saw anyone outside of their households. They knew nothing of the human, political, and natural forces in countries across the ocean, even in far away cities in their own country, that might have created (or at least affected) their world, but if they didn’t know, did it happen? Did they live lesser lives for not knowing? Would we live lesser lives if we did not know?

It’s hard not to know what is going on today, at least in a cursory way, since people talk about what they saw on the news, but at third or fourth hand, the tragedies lose their immediacy. (And anyway, almost all news is third or fourth hand by the time it is sifted and filtered down through news bureaucracies, which makes it all a sort of gossip.)

Maybe it’s not possible to live in the small world before my eyes. Maybe trying to do so makes me an unkind (though happier) soul, but my mission (to the extent that I have a mission) is not to succor the world, but to help the bewildered bereft make sense of what happened to them. (An email or a blog comment directed specifically to me is included in the world before my eyes, as is the page of a book, so to that extend, I do live the larger world.)

I hope that in whatever world you found yourself today, you, too, bathed your eyes in loveliness.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “An Insular Life”

  1. Sherrie Hansen Says:

    I have stopped watching the nightly news and late night shows – just don’t need the grief. But today, like you said, the news was hard to ignore. Like it or not, it touches us all. Mark is outside right now, lowering the flag to half staff.

  2. Sue Bedoyan Says:

    Dear Pat, l completely agree with your comments, if we all tried to kind in our own little world I believe the world would be a better place, we can’t change the world, we can do our little bit with those around us. I hope things for you are easier, l follow your life, I’m four years down this road, things are different, but not better. I miss him more now than when it first happened, my only wish would be some joy and peace in my heart. Much love from the other side of the pond. Sue

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It was only after the seven year anniversary of Jeff’s death that things changed for me. Maybe that other life is too far in the past. Maybe nearly destroying my arm changed my focus. I don’t know. I still miss him, but it’s more distant and doesn’t come with the agonizing yearning of the previous years. I hope some day you will find find some peace and joy. (Logically, grief should grow, because every day without the loved one just adds to the sorrow of their not being with us, but oddly, it does eventually become muted. Or maybe we become muted. I don’t know.)

  3. Coco Ihle Says:

    I live in somewhat an insular world, too, Pat. Yesterday, I had a really lovely day enjoying the sun and ocean breeze and then I got an e-mail from a friend proclaiming her outrage about the horrible massacre in Las Vegas. I had no idea what she was talking about until I turned on the TV. Like Sherrie, I often don’t watch the news because it is usually not edifying. I don’t understand some people. I think I’d rather be ignorant if I couldn’t do anything about a situation.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m trying to embrace ignorance. What good does it do to be outraged by something we can do nothing about, could not predict, could not stop before it happened. I think as a people, we are becoming too addicted to outrage. That’s why I’m trying to keep my outrage for things near at hand. Maybe things I can do something about.

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