Why do we do it?

Madge had been paying vague attention to the outside world but in the main, had enjoyed a lovely few days of peace and quiet with her book. It had been a long time since she had really read a book, preferring instead to listen via the Audible app. That itself was a strange thing she thought. Apps. Applications. Always being asked to download apps for better service and more benefits and all that promotional stuff. It was irritating and helpful at the same time and like everyone else, she had a phone screen full of apps.

Yet there was nothing like a real paper book to take a person into another world. Years ago, when she was first ill, she had lost her short term memory for some months. Along with all the other inconveniences, it had meant she couldn’t really read anymore because by the time she had finished a sentence, she had forgotten what she had read. She’d been able to compensate by buying books on cassette and later, CD but now it was two decades later and all the tech had changed. There was no longer any need to go to a bookshop or a library at the weekend. Instead, one could download an app, pay a monthly subscription and get new books to listen to in just a few seconds. It was convenient but Madge couldn’t help but feel that something had been lost with the instant accessibility. She was glad of her book and glad that her memory had recovered sufficiently to be able to read again.

It was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, a text she hadn’t read since university days and which she had no recollection of. Loaned a beautiful copy by her beloved’s daughter, herself an avid reader, Madge had been entirely engrossed for days. Listening and reading at the same time had proved an interesting re introduction to the full act of reading a novel and she had found herself frequently exclaiming aloud at the disgraceful behaviour of the characters. It had been wonderful to be so immersed and given that the day before, there had been cavalry horses running through the city, one covered in blood, it had all seemed rather alarming out there in the modern world. Madge was glad to be in her book and away from the news feed and the doom scrolling.

She’d been thinking about the impact of the constant news feed on the mental well being of the nation. It was strange to speak of ‘the nation’ as if it were a collective whole, given how divided the country was and yet, she did feel that ‘the nation’ was experiencing a collective phenomena. The phenomena of living in a land that had once felt like a reasonable, even decent place to live and which was now feeling broken and distressed.

She was seeing it amongst her own tribe. People who had managed to keep going throughout the pandemic, holding themselves and others together, delivering services, taking care of kids, finding ways through the new ways and now, the strain was breaking through. She had many friends who felt they were having mental health crisies and breakdowns. She knew children who had become depressed, even suicidal and she wanted to ask the powers that be whether they really thought it was ok. Is it ok to keep pretending that everything is ok when everyone can see it clearly isn’t?

She wasn’t sure quite what she thought any of them could do but there was a sense that ‘something needed to be done’ whenever she read the papers or headlines or political commentary. All the voices, clamouring to say they had the answers whilst a nation had become impoverished and more money was being spent on defence than school dinners. It was all very odd and yet, perhaps because she had switched off and been in another world, she felt a quiet optimism. Something had to change. Something would change. The key was to be part of a change that brought kindness not cruelty into people’s lives.

Kindness was key and as she looked up and out across the garden with its majestic clematis reaching for the early sun, she wished quite simply that more people would get the chance to receive kindness in their lives. She didn’t think people had lost their minds but rather, that the world had become insane and trying to make sense of it was the thing that was putting a strain on people. That and all the other stresses of course but she thought what she was probably saying this morning was that despite feeling overwhelmed at the scale of the issues, there was some resource to be found in a good book and a few days away from the news. Time with friends was where it was at and this morning, she was due to meet with two of the men in her life to discuss how they could bring more hahalala to the world. A constant process and we do it for love she thought. It was already broth o clock and now that her girlfriend was on it to, it had an extra edge of delight. Cosmic hugs and big love. It was important to remain hopeful. xx