Ruminations on days filled with soul-bowing news. 

A time. For everything. Yet when mournful, depressing, or saddening times come, even for someone we only know through a Google news feed, it can sometimes seem that no other time can exist. Should exist. Will ever exist again.

When we are chastened by someone else’s trials, and realize that by comparison our life is privileged, we bow our head and our heart—not always in humbleness but often with shame. It seems macabre and disrespectful to smile or enjoy or go on with our small lives. We do not sit in sack cloth and ashes—the dress of mourning—but on the stool in the corner in the most disturbing clown outfit we can imagine. Our cheeks are red, but not made up. How long is the time out? Five minutes? The duration that it takes to browbeat ourselves so we feel the others’ pain? Until that moment when we believe we should not—or more realistically, cannot—go on trying (and failing) to empathize any longer?

Yet, go on is what we must do. Each morning that breath re-enters our lungs, we must rise and take on the endeavor that awaits us. Some days the work is dull or the tasks are small. On others, joy froths out of the menial and laughter skips easily from our lips. Days will come when we must abandon one occupation for another. But many days, we grind along in the tracks we’ve worn through habit and duty because we don’t know what else to do. Some call this tedium, others contentment and a place to belong.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if everyone in the world did something at the same time. For example, what if we all jumped and landed at the same time? Would the world wobble or be thrown off course? Would the force of our landing be canceled out by those that are opposite us?

It’s an interesting thought experiment, but unlikely to happen. It’s just not natural to be that synchronized. When we’re told there is a time for everything, it does not mean that we will all be in lock-step doing and feeling and experiencing the same things at the same time. Life consists of melodies and counter melodies—syncopation and fugue. Our times do not always coincide, and I think that is a good thing.

We should laugh with those with reason to laugh and mourn with those we know are mourning, but we must hope ever so fervently that few events transpire where we all experience the same degree of loss or tragedy at the same moment. That way instead of hiding in the corner, ashamed that our life is not hard enough to truly empathize with our neighbor, we can simply know that is not our part to play at this particular moment. And when we are not one of the ones falling to the earth, perhaps, we can be there to break the fall or comfort those who are.