This piece was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Our Jackson Home: The Magazine.
I remember as a little girl, there were two things that topped the list of my least favorites about spring. One was a bright orange windbreaker my mother insisted I wear, and the other was spring cleaning. It never failed, though. She would place the cleaning rag and off-brand dusting spray in my tiny hands no matter how many times I insisted that the house was clean enough.We would scrub away the remnants of seasons past, and at the end of a (very) long day, we would be able to start over clean. I remember the satisfaction she had knowing we had worked hard—and, I had to admit, that first deep (faintly lemon-scented) breath felt really good.
Now, as I think about spring, I think maybe what we all need is a little cleaning—a fresh, new start. Revitalization. A renewal. All too often we hear or say, “I want to read good news; everything in the media is so negative all the time.” “Where is the positivity? Everyone in this town is so negative.” “I don’t even bother to read the paper or watch the news anymore because I don’t want to be depressed.”
Renewal. Clean start.
There is good to be found in the media; you just have to look for it. It’s there. It’s the front page of The Jackson Sun honoring a fallen member of the law enforcement team. It’s WBBJ helping to call attention to the good that the city’s non-profits are doing. It’s a community coming together to help a family in crisis. It’s there. You just have to look. You have to want to see it. You have to share that news instead of sharing the piece that doesn’t give you hope.
If you want to hear more positivity, share more positivity. Live more optimistically. Take a cue from the late great Michael Jackson and start with the [wo]man in the mirror. Change can start with you.
I’m not suggesting that all news is positive. Media wouldn’t be doing its job if it only reported on the positivity in the community. They report on what exists, and they do it for you. They do it so that the community stays informed of what is going on. If you don’t like what is going on, do something about it. Clean start.
I’m willing to bet that in the process of trying to do something, at least ten excuses for why you can’t will pop into your head. “I’m just one person. What can I possibly do?” You can volunteer. Take a look around this community. Get plugged in at a non-profit. Donate your time, those old clothes you cleaned out of your closet, money. Share stories of hope on Facebook.
Who am I to suggest this? Who am I to ask you to consider putting away not only those winter blankets and sweaters but also those feelings of discontent and anger? I’m no one—just a young twenty-something in this town who has come up with every excuse I could think of to rid myself of feeling the burden of a broken world . . . until I stopped.
I finally got through to myself.
I opened my eyes and picked up a newspaper. I stopped blaming media for “reporting ‘bad’ news.” I stopped saying I was “too poor” to tithe because I was in college, or young, or saving up for something. I stopped saying, “Don’t send me, God.”
When you read an article that makes you fearful, keep reading until you find one that gives you hope. When you see someone who could use a little encouragement, be present and do something kind. Some people don’t receive a smile all day. Be that smile.
When we’re finished, or even just when we see small victories in our community, that good look around, that first deep breath, will surely feel just as good as the one that filled my childhood lungs because this time it will fill our hearts.
Our Jackson Home seeks to be a positive source of information in this community. We encourage you to start here.
Chelsea-Catherine Cobb is a Jackson native and 2015 Union University graduate with a degree in Public Relations and French. She loves a strong cup of coffee, antique shopping, watching Jeopardy, writing, and meeting others who call Jackson home. Tell Chelsea you love cats, and you'll make a friend for life.
Header image by Katie Howerton.