Don’t open a newspaper. Don’t watch TV. Don’t go online. Don’t look on Facebook or Twitter or news sites or poke your head out from under that safe, cozy little rock.
Because the world is a scary, terrible place. Where scary, terrible things happen.
And they seem to be happening more and more often. With no end in sight.
Mass shootings. Bombings. Religious fanaticism. Racial tensions. Child abuse. Animal abuse. Domestic violence. Twilight-Zone-esque political atmosphere.
All in all, the human race seems completely incapable of getting along lately. No one can simply live their life the way they want and let others do the same. So long as no one else is affected or gets hurt in the process, what’s it matter if the guy down the street likes a different sport team or is gay? It’s not affecting your enjoyment of your chosen team or your relationship. Live and let live, right?
Wrong. Everyone’s got an opinion, and to a seemingly growing number, theirs is the RIGHT ONE DOGGONIT!! Anyone with differing religious beliefs, sexual preferences, gender identity, skin color, political leanings, interpersonal relations, et cetera, et cetera, IS WRONG!!
And these WRONG people must be shown the wrongness of their wrongdoing, either by limiting rights, changing or passing laws, or through the ever popular violence. Because might makes right, and beating the crap out of someone or shooting up a dance club is the absolute best way to show these wrongdoers the error of their ways. To show that this wrongness will not be tolerated.
It’s mind-boggling and heart-wrenching to see that despite all the advancements we’ve concocted and developed over the centuries, all the progress as a civilization, we are still so violent towards each other. Mostly because someone else dares to think, believe, or live differently.
In these troubled times, when it’s hard to find any good in the world, I propose seeking out a certain bearded gentleman, who was once a carpenter and possesses a soft voice that speaks only words of guidance and encouragement.
That man, Dear Readers, is Bob Ross.*
I’m sure many of you just rolled your eyes. I know, I know. Bob Ross, he of the poofy uber-perm and “happy little trees”? Pfft, come on!
Hear me out. When people think of Bob Ross, they usually smile. Because yes, he was a bit on the cheesy side, but he was also a kind soul, one who encouraged ANYONE to pick up a brush and paint their own “world”. He was nothing but encouraging as he whipped up his happy little trees and happy little bushes and nice little rivers and cabins and mountains.
Netflix added a bunch of episodes of “The Joy of Painting” to their streaming collection. My entire family has sat and watched Bob create beautiful scenes and landscapes, all while hearing his words of encouragement. “You want bad, watch the news. Only good in our little world on the canvas,” he said in one episode.
Sure it’s a form of escapism. Any interest is a form of escapism, whether it’s writing, watching a movie, or painting. It’s something to occupy your mind for a while, and let you leave this world for another. And in times like these, when every day brings news of death and destruction, a little escapism isn’t such a bad thing.
Bob’s soothing voice and ease at creating beauty from nothing but a few paintbrushes and blobs of color provide a great escape from the bad news of today. Check out the eps on Netflix, or the YouTube channel with all the shows. I practically guarantee that you’ll feel differently at the end of the episode than you did at the beginning.
Maybe more relaxed. Maybe encouraged to make your own “world”, either through painting or writing or some other creative endeavor. Or maybe you’re just happy to be reminded that there is still beauty in the world. When the news focuses so much on the bad, that’s easy to forget.
Take a tip from Bob and enjoy the little things. Create your own little world where you can have nothing but happy little trees and calm streams. If more people did so, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.
*I realize this description is quite applicable to another leader, one of the more spiritual variety. Some people find peace and strength in their faith, whichever particular belief system they follow. That’s great! Not everyone does. Bob Ross is accessible to everyone, no matter their personal beliefs, and can teach you to paint a beautiful mountain or ocean scene in only 25 minutes. That’s pretty impressive, really.