There is, of course, the recent tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines plane being shot down. I don't know what more to say about it other than my first reaction upon learning the news: "What did Putin expect would happen after supplying such advanced weapons to what amounts to a group of ragtag wastrels?" This writer contends that the separatists were probably behind the attack and that they didn't even know what they were shooting at. Either way, it was really only a matter of time until something terrible happened.
This should be obvious. Why world leaders have been taking the invasion of Ukraine so lightly from the start is beyond me. The stakes here are high, and I think the US and EU especially share some of the responsibility for the downed airliner. It is in their purview to influence the situation, and they have not used their power wisely. I think the emergence of a strong leader is needed now more than ever. America was plagued with bad leadership before the Civil War. Let's be optimistic that our generation's Abraham Lincoln will show him or herself sometime soon.
Yulia and I are far from the war zones in Donbas, but the war has its effects even here in western Ukraine. The workers that were changing our roof last week told us that a young man from their village just died in the fighting. We have seen low flying attack helicopters while working in the garden in recent weeks too. There is a military airbase nearby, and we suspect they were flying to or from there.
We have also noticed an increase in people who seem "not right." Yulia was sitting near a man on the bus who was ranting about the Maidan. She paid little attention to him. When she yawned he accused her of being indifferent to the cause. Back in the winter I was traveling to Lviv and an intoxicated man got on the bus. When the driver pointed out that he did not pay, the man said, "Yes, I did. What are you, from the Party of Regions [disgraced ex-president Yanukovych's party]?" And there are many more stories like this.
On top of this we've had some very personal issues to deal with concerning our neighbors. Out of respect for them I don't want to go into too many details, but it can be very disheartening to encounter resistance when we already have so much going against us.
I want to keep this post short because I don't want to dwell on these negative topics. We are fortunate to live in a safe place with natural beauty all around us. We have many friends, family, and strangers who treat us well and even help us when we need it. I wanted to write this post in order to discuss the strange state of the world (on many different scales) around us right now.
Yulia and I often feel that people may misinterpret our positive attitude as naivete, indifference, or that life is easy for us. We assure you that we have struggles just like everyone else, but we do not feel it is right to deal with them with depression or despair (although it can be tempting to do so at times). Rather, we think hearing about the struggles of other people and how they overcome them can be very helpful.
Yulia and I have several coping mechanisms, and we are finding more everyday. Our very favorite thing to do is to go on walks. A change in scenery can help reframe your world and give you a reset psychologically. The exercise helps both our emotions and minds.
We also put our energy into creating things. As readers of this blog probably know, we spend most of our time gardening and fixing our house. In doing so we are literally building the world around us. It helps us feel that our lives are progressing and getting better. We have lived in many different places and have seen that pretty much each one has pluses and minuses in one form or another. In general,we think it's probably healthier to see the world as it could be (rather than looking for the "greener grass" on the other side).
When we are too tired for gardening and home repair we listen to music. There's something about music that can be very soothing. We listen to all sorts of music. Yulia listens to musicals like Phantom of the Opera when she works on the computer. I also hear songs like "Bolero" playing while she is working.
I like Reggie Watts, who combines comedy with his music. I tried to get Yulia into him. I think she is lukewarm about it. :)
We also like to hear other people's stories of struggle and success. Last week Yulia showed me a video of Oprah Winfrey talking about her life.
Among other things, she talks about how she deals with obstacles in life. It really helps to see her speak. I think her attitude is just as important as any information she gives.
What about you? What are some ways in which you deal with both everyday and extraordinary struggles in life?