What to Do When the News Is All Bad

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

In my neck of the woods, as autumn becomes more frail, cicadas mark the daytime—around midday, they awake and begin their daily song. Then, around sundown, they are supposed to recede, and the crickets preside over the darkness, humming until daybreak. And yet, sometimes, they overlap.

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

If I listen closely, threaded throughout the din of crickets, I can hear the rebellious hum of cicadas refusing to go gently into the night. And here’s the thing: if you listen closely, a bunch of insects can teach you about how darkness and light really work:

Always, darkness and light overlap.

mindfulness

Photo Credit: Spaxia (Bigstock)

There is, it seems, darkness everywhere right now. Charlottesville and hate, hurricanes and devastation. Earthquakes in Mexico, a massacre in Vegas, wildfires in California. The darkness of political and racial division everywhere, even on a gridiron. Data breaches and the dark web and the unfathomable darkness it harbors. Terror and trafficking and more terror.

If you read the headlines, it is easy to believe darkness reigns.

But the truth is, the news is called the news not because it is common, but because it is rare. If my kids came to me and told me they had big news and I asked what it was and they told me they’d just gone to the bathroom, I’d tell them that’s not news. News is the exception to the rule. So, when the news industry reports on the darkness, they are flooding you with outliers. That’s their job.

The truth is, there’s not enough server space in all the world to contain the very, very common light in all the world. The good news is so common, there’s not enough channels on television to contain it all. In fact, the good news is so ordinary, it’s not news at all. It’s just life. And it’s happening right here, right now, all the time, in the midst of the very sensational darkness.

Always, darkness and light overlap.

Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine was in a department store. From the next aisle, he could hear a mother playfully talking to her infant child. He could hear the child giggle and gurgle in reply. The interaction was so sweet, he peered around the corner to see it. The baby was nestled in a car seat and tucked into a shopping cart. The mother was lovingly hovering over her, smiling and laughing, too. But the mother was bald.

In a department store aisle, the darkness of cancer and the light of laughter and love overlapped.

After peeking around the corner, it’s hard to see anything but the darkness of the mother’s cancer, the gloaming of the grief that may lay ahead. Darkness does that to us. It surrounds us and, like the din of crickets, threatens to drown out everything else.

We have to listen closely for the sounds of the daylight.

But if we do, we’ll discover it’s always there, simply dwelling in the midst of the darkness. You see, light doesn’t try to destroy darkness. Light simply enters into darkness, dwells within darkness, and insists on existing, too. It refuses to go gently into the night. Light simply overwhelms the darkness, with sheer volume, until there is so much of it that it can’t even be called news anymore.

Sure, sometimes the darkness is easier to see. Sometimes we have to listen a little harder for the sounds of beauty and love and generosity and sacrifice and kindness and peacefulness and tenderness. Sometimes we have to remember what we heard when we were one aisle over and the darkness wasn’t quite so obvious. But if we listen, we’ll hear it:

Peace overlapped with hate in Charlottesville. Sacrifice overlapped with massacre in Vegas. Charity is overlapping with destruction in Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico. Heroism is overlapping with heat in California. Discourse is overlapping with division everywhere. Peace is overlapping with terror, and love is overlapping with fear.

There is light here, if you listen for it.

And then there’s this: if you listen long enough to the light in the midst of the darkness, you will happen upon a deeply graceful mystery: it is the light in you which hears the light in everything else. So, to be the light, you don’t even need to become something new; all you have to do is be the very ordinary light you already are. That is the very good news, so common it’s not even news. It’s just good.

Overwhelm the darkness.

Do the one thing darkness can’t do: shine in the midst of it.

Give us something beautiful to listen for, from one aisle over.

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Loveable is about rediscovering that light within you. It's available in paperback, digital, and audio and can be purchased wherever books are sold, so you can also purchase it at your favorite bookseller.

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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