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It's a tale of two existences.

There are those who are about to go bat-dung crazy due to life, interrupted. They don't go anywhere except to run errands. Their car dealerships send them notices that their cars are due for maintenance, but the car still has a zillion miles to go before the next oil change. They've watched all the free TV/cable TV/streaming-service offerings/DVDs that have grabbed their interest. They've cleaned, rearranged, painted, renovated, landscaped and gardened their behinds off. They've made all the fun they feel they can make. They've Zooma-Zooma-Zooma-Zoomed, to quote the theme song to the old children's show that once aired on PBS. They look longingly at travel brochures and newsletters, mourn over canceled travel plans. They wonder if their grandchildren will forget about them.

If they're fed up enough, they've sneaked off on beach vacations and road trips, or at least retreated to woodsy vacation cabins.

Then there are those who are about to go bat-dung crazy due to life, shattered. Those who are casualties of covid-19. Or the wildfires, which you may not have initially realized at first were happening in more states than just California. Or hurricanes — first Laura, then Sally, then heaven knows what others to come. Or derecho storms, of which you hadn't even heard unless you're a meteorologist. (A derecho is a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms.) Or the tornadoes. Or the freak explosions. Or the shootings, the lootings, the other outbursts of violence and unrest. There are those who have been hit by multiple disasters ... or the same disaster, multiple times.

If you're living the former existence, you probably grouse about living in limbo before remembering that so many are living in hell on earth and you start feeling guilty. You find something that brings you a moment of joy but feel guilty again because so many have nothing to laugh or be joyful about.

It's a vicious cycle. There's no "off" button anymore because there's not enough time to regulate your feelings about one crazy-bad occurrence before another comes up. So you throw yourself into your work, if you still have a job/career. You opt for a bit of escapism ... finding some silly, trivial thing to laugh about, such as the recent Buzzfeed pictorial: "29 Entertaining Things for Anyone Who Needs Some Excitement in Their Life." (Yep, just what you needed: an electric gummy maker. A bazooka sushi maker. And a puffy-sticker kit!) You cheer for the contestant you've been following on "America's Got Talent" ... look forward to "Dancing With the Stars" cranking back up ... And yeah, you watch those TBD video snippets.

Then the news comes back on and you feel let-them-eat-cake-y for having gotten away from feeling bad for all the folks really suffering, including those for whom life was no crystal stair before 2020. And your bad feelings take you to a place from which you find you have to escape for the sake of your sanity.

You've seen the urging here many times before: Put in some intercessory prayer. Reach out and do what you can to help, whether it's giving money to a stricken individual or family you know, or making a donation to a well-reputed charity or relief organization, or making like the Cajun Navy and doing some good, old-fashioned manual labor volunteering.

I still advocate doing any of the above you can but would admonish you not to feel guilty about getting in some joy and some laughter. Those who read the Good Book know what it says about both: it equates joy with strength, laughter and a merry heart with medicine. For non-Christians and freethinkers, there's plenty of scientific evidence that joy and laughter are personally beneficial.

It doesn't help those suffering from the miseries dealt out by 2020 if the rest of us go around being all tragic-mooded. Yeah, they need us to maybe take our heads out of the TV and the fall garden for a minute, quit griping about not being able to go to Bermuda and make what positive difference we can make in their misfortunes. But they also need to see that no matter how horrendous things may be, joy — along with its companion, hope — are not out of reach.

They need strength. And good medicine.

Make a joyful email: hwilliams@adgnewsroom.com

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