An exchange of dialogue on last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy gave me a little lightbulb moment. (Spoiler warning!)
Meredith Grey has COVID-19 and she’s on a ventilator. Meredith’s consciousness is visiting a beach, a safe and happy place in her mind, while her body struggles to survive. Her deceased sister Lexie appears on the beach and they talk about life and love. Part of it goes something like this.
Meredith: How can I enjoy my life when so many people are dying?
Lexie: That’s stupid! You are here, you are alive, and you should celebrate that!
Lexie didn’t mean that Meredith should ignore the suffering of others. She meant that her sister, and any human, has the right to be happy about what’s going well regardless of what else is happening in the world.
In case you’re not familiar, Debbie Downer was a Saturday Night Live character played by Rachel Dratch. Every time someone said something positive, Debbie was ready to bring down the mood. She’d mention a tragedy or a horrifying statistic. She couldn’t let anyone have fun or feel good.
Debbie Downer lives in some of our heads.
How many times have you held back on sharing good news because of the times we are living in? Lots, I’m guessing. But we need good news now more than ever. Some days, it feels like I’m craving good news, like chocolate or ice cream.
And your good feelings and knowing that others are suffering aren’t mutually exclusive. We can take a moment to be happy, even when there’s so much worry and concern hanging like a drop ceiling over our lives. And diminishing our good stuff doesn’t help the suffering anyway. When my Mother lay in the hospice, her useless legs withering away, and completely dependent on others for everything, she wanted to know good news. Standing over her wringing our hands wouldn’t have been beneficial for her or us.
There will always be tragedies. Some people will suffer while others don’t. We do what we can. Once I finally accepted that society doesn’t want to feed the world before making a buck for itself, life became easier. I still do what I can to help in my own little ways. But I guess it’s the stoic in me. Or the person who believes in the Serenity Prayer.
Of course, there’s such a thing as being tone deaf. You don’t want to do a social media dance while the rest of society is feeling a sense of doom. But just for you, for a moment, with no critical inner voice, allow yourself a brief respite from concern. We’re all feeling the heaviness. And we deserve a little break when it arrives. And we ARE damn lucky to be alive! So celebrate it.