Editorial by The Free Press staff. File Photo

EDITORIAL: Kindness, happiness are just as contagious

I’ve got on a coffee stained shirt, the same one I’ve worn for the last three days. Jubilantly. Remorselessly. Even (dare I say it) proudly. It’s a symbol of acceptance… or maybe of resignation. Some days it’s hard to tell the difference.

Three weeks in, and the feelings come in waves. Fear followed by strength, misery by excitement, loneliness by abundance. But despite the fluxing and flowing, the uncertainty and the instability, I’m changing in ways I never thought possible.

Three weeks ago, I was flipping through my book of misery. Having a conversation with my father, I read aloud from pages dripped in futility and glazed in self pity.

In some inaccessible, cobwebby recess of my heart, I felt guilty for my fortune. Guilty to be hopeful in the midst of a world shutting off. While everything crumbled down around me, I figured it was my civil duty to stand in solidarity with the pain.

That’s when I realized that part of the reason I felt so unhappy, was because I chose to feel unhappy. Because it was far easier drinking from a glass of hopelessness and covering myself with a blanket of misery, than it was to sift through the darkness in search of a light.

As it turns out, sorrow is contagious. Fear is contagious. Panic is contagious. But so is happiness. And not only do all of those things multiply exponentially within ourselves, but also within the world.

Three weeks ago, I was running. We were running. Trudging on, we blazed through life on a venomous hunt for more. Productivity and achievement were our markers for success. Acquisition of money and status laid a foundation for our priorities. Blinded and robotic, we mindlessly lusted over instant gratification, fast money, fast love, fast healing.

Without surprise, unsustainably and uncontrollably, we drove our planet into energetic overload. We ran on that capitalistic hamster wheel, faster and harder, until it broke. Until we derailed our little toy, bolts flying and metal tearing.

Now that I sit here, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but melt into the moment, I’m wondering if maybe I never needed what I thought I wanted. If maybe chasing after life was a race I’d never win. If maybe the things that matter, the ones that intoxicate me to the bone and stoke a fire in my soul, are not things at all, but rather people. Depth of connection. Breadth of experiences. Moments of reflection and of peace and of gratitude.

Some days, when I look out my window, it’s hard to see the good. But other days, when I peel back that curtain, I see a planet coming together in an effort of love. We’ve unraveled in war, in disease, and in destruction, but we’ve never before exhibited mass union on this scale. For the first time in history, we’re fighting a common battle despite race, despite sexuality, and despite religion. And that alone makes me wonder if perhaps, in some twisted way, we needed this.


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