Monday, December 31, 2007

The Good News Is...

I'm sure we have all had the following experience. We meet someone or they call us on the phone and they begin: "So, would you like the good news first of the bad news first?" There is no good answer to this question.

If you ask for the good news first you cannot really concentrate on it as you are thinking of what the bad news could be. If you ask for the bad news first, you don't really concentrate on whatever good news follows as you are too busy thinking about the bad news. Either way, good news seems to get buried as we struggle to deal with bad news.

When was the last time that you remember a newspaper reporting "good" news? If all you can think of is a banner headline proclaiming "The War is Over!"--pick a war, any war--then you are suffering from a dearth of bad tidings. Buried in the classified advertisements section of our local newspaper you can sometimes find the good news yearning to breathe free. Last week, for the christian holiday, a group of 5 families, parents and children, spent the day serving food in a community feeding center for the indigent. The parents wanted to give their children a "real" present for the holiday--an understanding that they should be grateful for all they have because some people have nothing. Yes, good news--and bad news. The good news is that some people care about more than buying the latest doodad. The bad news is that some people have nothing.

My husband has a rule for the Shabbos table: no bad news allowed. When he comes home from shul and I ask "What's new?" I will get only the good news: someone is engaged, someone had a baby, someone had an aufruf. Even family conversation at the table is limited to the "good" things that happened during the week or the "good" things we are looking forward to. His feeling is that there has to be at least one time in our busy lives when good news comes unaccompanied by bad. "Shabbos is not for crying" is his attitude. I think he is right. The bad news can wait.

We spend so much time obsessing about bad news that we find ourselves with little time to "kvell" about the good news. We look at the "good" news as unimportant when compared to the bad news. The glass is always half empty instead of half full.

I'm trying to change things for myself. I want my day to begin with good news. And it does. I am here. I woke up and am able to go about my required tasks for the day. My limbs are intact, if a little sore, and I can see and hear and speak and taste and smell. My computer is working and I can put my thoughts down on "paper." Everyone else in my house also woke up this morning and were able to go about their regular jobs. Want more good news? My mother, ken yirbu, is here for me to say good morning to. So are my siblings.

The refrigerator is full and breakfast is a matter of choosing, not settling. The weather is cool and there are sweaters and coats in the closet to keep me from freezing. Yes, there are stacks of papers to be marked--it's wonderful that I have a job and one that I mostly love. Those papers are evidence that my students learned something this term. The first one I pick up to mark is an "A" paper. How much better can a day begin?

Last night we attended a vort in the family. This morning I kvell at how happy the choson and kallah seemed, how right they looked with each other. Yes, a simcha before Pesach. This coming up Shabbos we have an aufruf, and a chasoneh on Sunday. Good news all.

I'm not being a Pollyanna; I know that bad news exists. Not everything I have heard the past few weeks is good news. I'm just trying to achieve a little balance in my life. The good news deserves equal billing with the bad news. Without our recognizing that we do, indeed, have lots of good news, then we are going to let the bad news dominate us and prevent us from living fully.

Our glasses are not empty. They aren't even half empty. They are full of all kinds of good things. We only need to recognize this and allow ourselves to bask in the joy of good news. The bad news can wait; it always does.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed that!