What to remind yourself of when you’re terrified
Q: Is it weird to address terror in a newsletter about problem eating? Is it wrong to address our eating problems altogether in a time of terror?
Related Q: Should we likewise address personal problems and/or terror in a time of natural disaster?
A: I think we really must address our personal problems, even while the suffering of others is more extreme. And even while we’re terrorized and terrified.
Remember when Protestants and Catholics used to kill each other? Man, that is such old-timey terrorism. So … limited in comparison to today.
This terrorism we see today is not about negotiation. It’s not looking for a share of something. It’s not looking to share, at all. White supremacy wants to exterminate all that is not “white.” Militant Islam wants the whole world under its rule.
Utter obedience. Total submission.
It won’t stop until it wins. And it will never win. Because it can’t. Obviously. So it will never stop.
We’re gonna be living with it. And that means carrying on.
So do you want to carry on in a really terrorized, stricken kind of way? Or do you want to carry on living the best you can? Gloriously, even?
If the latter, yay! Let’s do it together. (And another time we will talk about how we terrorize ourselves. Because a lot of us do.)
Coincidentally, much of what I know about glorious living I learnt in Barcelona. The Catalan people are GOOD at carrying on in the not-so-great times and celebrating in the good times.
I spent three or four days in Barcelona once, tagging along on my husband’s work trip. Some things that are very apparent there: Pleasure matters. Elegance matters. Courtesy, dare I say courtliness, matters. Good food matters, and has a place at the center of life. (Every day in Barcelona I woke up thinking WHAT CRAZY FOOD WILL THEY FEED ME TODAY? Sour milk truffles?! Okay! It is ON.)
Gracious living matters. Cleverness, inventiveness, creativity matter. Family, friendship, conviviality really really matter.
Terror wants to pretty much crush all that, but these things cannot be crushed.
So in the face of terror, how do we want to be, in our personal lives? Terrorized? And what do we stand for? Some particular fiscal policy?
Please. Let’s stand instead for kindness, openness, generosity, conviviality, graciousness, courtesy, dignity and reciprocity. Equality. A place at the table for everyone. Good food on it, for all.
And of course, self-care, beauty, pleasure and dressing up.
PS I’ve written about Spain before. It made a big impression on me.
PPS As you know, folks in Spain eat late. Like, really late. You might see people sitting down for a little pre-dinner snack at a bar at 10pm. I actually saw families with young kids sitting down for dinner at a restaurant at midnight. On a school night.
And I know you’ve heard that it’s terrible for your weight to eat past 6pm and Oprah would never do it, but when I worked in the news office at Harvard, we published a study showing it’s the number of calories you consume that dictates your weight. The time of day you consume them makes no difference at all. And if you look around at the people in Barcelona eating dinner after midnight, you’d have to believe.
PPPS I also learnt quite a bit about conviviality while working in Ireland, another place that has survived a lot of trouble.