By Forest Riggs
These days it seems as if everyone—and I do mean everyone—is overwhelmed, overworked, frustrated, angry, fed-up, depressed, aggravated and not happy.
Aside from politics, scandals, lies, name-calling and juvenile tweets from the White House, folks along the Southeast Texas Gulf have suffered horribly over the last few months. Mother Nature, in all her strength, blew down and flooded entire cities, in many cases washing away populated neighborhoods, and not just here. Our beautiful U.S. territories in the Caribbean have been dealt a blow the likes of which has crippled them. Months have passed with humans in this hemisphere going without shelter, food, water, electricity and the very basic things that make life livable.
In California, wildfires have been so intense they could not be stopped for days. They wiped away entire communities, neighborhoods, lives and thousands of acres of land.
The news has been horrible, from all sides and all angles. The mass shooting in Las Vegas, the murder and dumping of a small child—all of these things haunt our collective psyche and, in time, take a tremendous toll on our individual minds, hearts and general well-being.
A year ago, the LGBTQ community sat poised, waiting for the election of new president, one that promised social changes and good things for America. Instead, on a platform of “Make American Great Again”, Americans got “Make America Hate!” The race was bitter and nasty and that attitude has boiled over into public unrest, crime and a weakened image of America around the globe. Where we were once the leader, we are now the bully. LGBTQ folks are once again feeling threatened, denigrated and stripped of their basic rights as U.S. citizens. The government is being seeded with hate-mongers who hide behind religion and spew lies, turning friend against friend, marginalizing populations and people that don’t fit their ideas of how to make America great. It seems the more we progress, the more we get knocked back and return to antiquated laws, policies and ways of thinking. It is sickening.
All of this combined with the daily stress of living has created a sad and sick pall over our human existence. We know this cannot continue and that change begins with each of us doing our part to stop the madness and heal our hearts and minds. That is what makes American great, not dividing and labeling.
What to do?
How do we deal with all of it? How do we cope? We start by finding things and places that bring us peace and joy, whether real and tangible or just in our minds. Everyone has things, people, places and events that evoke gentle, sweet, fun and positive thoughts. This is where we need to be, in our minds and in our activities.
It is finally fall, the weather has cooled, and though many are still hurting and suffering from fires, storms, earthquakes and, yes, even elections, it is time to shift gears, make ready for the holidays and take chances on those things that we know bring us happiness—festivals, house parties, concerts, drag shows, intimate dinners with good friends, holiday movies, making cookies with loved ones, giving and sharing of our time and talents to help others, volunteering—anything that breaks the recent patterns of hopelessness, gloom and doom. We just have to step outside of our comfort zone, which ironically these days, is full of discomfort, and make happiness happen! Get a group of friends together, listen to music, cook, take a trip—whatever it takes to change feelings and dispel negativity. This fall in particular, we should all attempt to see a live show, take in a holiday concert, gather with others and be surrounded with laughter, hugs and good times.
The island of Galveston is certainly not the Caribbean, Hawaii or some other idyllic tropical getaway, but it is a start, and place to begin in an effort to make a shift in our energies. The Island, especially at this time of year, offers a great many activities and events to lift the spirits, rescue our tired minds and find some joy in a world that chokes us daily, even if just as a quick get away with friends for some fine dining or a slow walk on the seawall, be silly and try out the Pleasure Pier, or stroll The Strand at dusk and watch gas lights flicker.
Sometimes, the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure. Museums, concerts, block parties and festivals are all waiting for your exploration. Even a walk through timeless cemeteries or a ride on a free ferry, can change your entire energy and outlook. Will it pay the bills? Will it bring back burned and flooded houses? No. Can it take away the pains of our “modern” lives? No. It can, however, even if for a brief time, take us away from our troubles and help us forget the bad things that dog each of us. The catch is, we have to make the effort and just take chance at doing something different for a change.
Not-so-sleepy ol’ Galveston is here, and always has been, waiting to help anyone who comes looking. Shops, restaurants and open beaches beckon, and locals long to proudly share their treasures with you.
Sometimes, everything you need is just across the Causeway!
Forest Riggs, a resident of Galveston is no stranger to the adventures of life. A former educator and business owner, he enjoys Island life and all that comes with it. He says he is a “raconteur with a quixotic, gypsy spirit.” He has written for several newspapers and magazines as well as other writing pursuits, including a novel and collection of short stories.