Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feb. 11 Gratitude: Teflon and Velcro

This has been one of those days when every bit of news seems to have been discouraging. Financial meltdowns. Global warming. Bush fires in Australia set by arsonists. Conflict, endless conflict in the Middle East. Strip mining in West Virginia. California budget problems. Salmonella tainted peanut butter in the US. Salmon not spawning in the California streams. On and on.

I'm grateful to know that the human mind is built to register and retain negative information as if it were made of Velcro. Keeping track of potentially threatening things has survival value.

Simultaneously, we're built to slough off positive information as if our minds were made of Teflon. In this way our minds can remain clear enough to hold on to the next piece of negative information.


I'm grateful to know that my mind works like that: Good news, forget it. Bad news, cherish it.

Today wasn't actually a bad day. It just feels like it was a bad day.

My doctor didn't call to tell me or anyone in my immediate circle that we've got a new and serious malady. My bank didn't fail today. It rained, but didn't flood. My car started when I turned the key. I didn't get into a collision. The lights stayed on. My computer, a Macintosh, worked flawlessly all day, as it always seems to do, and I've grown accustomed to that.

I got to the gym. My wife made dinner and I did the dishes; my belly's full and the kitchen's clean. I'm about 10 minutes from brushing my teeth and going to my favorite chair by the fire to read a new book I started yesterday titled, A Guide the Good Life by philosophy professor, William B. Irvine.


Delwyn said...

If you listen to the TV news and read the paper you could think that the world is always full of bad news, and it is. But it's also full of good news that doesn't get reported cos that doesn't make popularity polls soar.

So I rarely watch the TV news any more. I find I get a more balanced coverage with the national paper. There have been so many fire stories that I can't bear to read any more, except those of love and care and wonder.
Like the old old lady who despite just coming out of hospital with a hip replacement, dragged herself down to her dam, tied an arm and a leg to the fence post with a length of rope and plunged into the murky depths to escape the furnace. And the 90 year old man who lay in the horse trough under a wet blanket as the fire went over.
So I must give thanks to the kind the caring and the heroic deeds of fire fighters, neighbours and volunteers and now to the population of Au and the world for the immense disaster relief fund.

Alden said...

You are right to count the blessings that you have identified Dan - as I am sure you are aware it is often the small things that we are so used to that we should be grateful for - go to the tap (or is it a fawcet in the USA) and turn on a clear stream of clean drinkable water - a modern miracle not available for the majority of the worlds populations - we have a lot to give thanks to.

Mr. Kinder said...

Delwyn, the TV has been too strong a dose of bad news and corrupt values for me since 1969. Just haven't wanted it in my life. I do sometimes get news on the radio and the internet. I used to read the Christian Science Monitor (which was a balanced national paper here in the US) but it folded.

I frequently I opt for music or silence these days. Your new (and photos) of the fires is uplifting: you find the aspects of courage that recast the events in a positive light. The photo of the fire fighter giving water to a Koala was especially touching.

Mr. Kinder said...

Alden, thanks. Agreed. I find it interesting how easily we become blind to the miracles of water -- hot and cold -- so easily available. My son in Africa hires a village girl to fetch him a bucket of water each day. (It's the custom for girls to do this work. He tried doing it for himself and learned it was NOT THE THING TO DO.)

Katherine said...

Your last comment is interesting, Dan. I guess Ted is learning so much about the world on his trip!

Music or silence for me too.

Mr. Kinder said...

Yes, Ted's project is called GEE: Girls Education Empowerment. The idea that girls should be educated is controversial in some cultures.

Music and silence: really they're part of the same reality. Music arises from silence. Either is preferable to bad news about which one can do nothing.