How does one live through the world’s madness?
Everyone speaks of a thick skin yet I wonder if anyone speaks of a thick heart. Yes, a thick heart. It’s what gets you through life in a crazy world. A thick skin isn’t hard to develop. I know that from 6 years in military school where discipline translated to all manners of physical abuse. In hindsight, the abuse was the effect of dealing with low self-esteemed junior military officers and senior students themselves battered by the system.
The thing with a thick skin is you somehow grow into it as the physical abuse becomes regular and you in turn feel helpless to address it. On another hand, a thick heart is never easy. Perhaps because the heart as an internal organ feels abstract compared to the visible skin; my theory.
How does one go through life against the constant barrage of bad news that touch the heart? It doesn’t matter where one turns — North, South, East and West. It doesn’t matter the medium — print, electronic and social media. It seems the world is constantly trying to outdo itself at being crazy.
How does one maintain his sanity seeing broken spirits everywhere as a result of strife, wars, discrimination etc.; results of human actions or inactions? The world isn’t fair; true. The world isn’t all grim news; true. But how come I don’t see enough of the good of humanity to heal my aching heart?
Personally, I’m concerned only about life here on earth and living it to the best of my purpose in my chosen space. To do that requires a constant reinforcement of my values and purpose against the myriad of societal odds not to mention crazy news across the world.
So, what’s my solution?
The answer may not sound sensible but it’s mine anyways. I live in a bubble. I live in a personal bubble where I try hard to see only the things that inspire me. In practical terms, I consciously tap into my journey and experience for times where the beauties of humanity have astounded me. I bookmark articles that give me hope in humanity. I read to understand the contexts surrounding popular narratives about people, cultures and societies. What’s the alternative? An overbearing consumption of grim news with resultant negative effects on my delicate heart.
A disclaimer. It’s not a perfect bubble! In fact, I doubt there’s one perfect bubble. The world we live in is an interconnected one. Every time I have to take a peek into trending topics to keep abreast of happenings around me, I’m faced with news of madness sweeping humanity. Ironically, it’s within these jungle that I have to filter stuffs to upgrade my bubble.
I do a lot of commuting across inner communities in Lagos. It’s not the most comforting of trips in a city of over 20 million people where the gap between rich and poor is as clear as crystal. Still, when I go around, I watch out for peculiar stories that instil confidence and hope; stories that speak of making lemonades from lemons. I borrow that mental approach from comedians who somehow find a way to make us laugh at the very ills bedevilling us. It serves my bubble.
How easy is it to sustain that bubble? For example, I could share pictures from my storytelling showcase around public primary schools with kids laughing. But I couldn’t tell about the systematic odds we had to endure to get to those kids. See, people are people. It doesn’t help to rationalise their actions but I do anyways to sustain my bubble. I have to think for them and say, “hey, don’t you know where (s)he’s coming from? (S)he’s a victim of the system.It’s not her/his fault.” It serves my bubble.
I like to say to me, I’m a dead man anyways. And though my heart breaks every time I watch these madness, I look to my bubble to find a much needed balance. After all, a society’s madness reflects its very own — people like my non-righteous self.
And when opportunities come my way, I’ve run from here across the Atlantic to the illusion that is the greener grass. Even then as I’ve since come to realize, my bubble isn’t sustained by the skyscrapers, beaches, well paved roads and constant electric power. Nah! My soul finds comfort in inner communities; places where my bubble finds a connection in seeing folks live and smile against all odds. It’s in those relatable places, my heart asks questions like, “How do you get by? What models are you using?”
Finally, living a bubble isn’t living in denial of the truth. It’s not to deny that in the world out there lies the good, bad and ugly even if ugly forever rules the news headlines. Rather, the bubble exists to help me keep motivated and inspired to find sense in living to fulfil my purpose.
The bubble is what it takes to keep me inspired.