I have been struggling recently in how to process the cataract of bad news and retain equanimity—reactionary SCOTUS decisions (reversing a half century of promise for women’s autonomy, inexplicable overturning of reasonable state decisions to protect the public from more gun violence, reactionary rejection of sensible controls on climate destroying gas emissions); one more day, one more mass shooting; stunning revelations of a former leader of the free world seeking advice from the most abject and deluded of advisors; weather and climate emergencies that are destroying people’s homes, taking their lives, and destroying nature’s treasure.

Some days I simply say no news today, and I turn on a favorite Netflix movie.  I know that this is irresponsible, but I do not know how much depressing news I can process.  Then I remember that magnificent passage from the tryworks chapter of Melville’s Moby Dick.

Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man! . . . believe not the artificial fire, when its redness makes all things look ghastly. . .

Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia’s Dismal Swamp, nor Rome’s accursed Campagna, nor wide Sahara, nor all the millions of miles of deserts and of griefs beneath the moon. . . . therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true- not true, or undeveloped. . . .

Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges,and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces.

How to become that Catskill eagle?  Here are some of my recent tactics that I suggest for you to consider:

  1. Limit news time.
  2. Do not watch only the news outlets that re-enforce your own prejudices.
  3. Remember that our experience of death and destruction likely pales in comparison to a regular day in Syria or Ukraine.
  4. Do something that makes a difference (contribute your time, talent, and treasure to institutions/causes that matter to you and do so at a level that actually moves the needle for that cause).
  5. Watch a movie or read a book that makes you laugh out loud.
  6. Take a walk and get outside of your head.
  7. Listen to your favorite music.
  8. Call your friends and family (particularly your grandchildren if you are fortunate to have them); better yet visit them.
  9. Have a good dinner.
  10. Kiss your partner and thank them for being in your life.