Thursday, April 12, 2007

Take a Media Break - The World Isn't That Bad


It's a radical idea, I know, but just hear me out. Sometimes it really can seem as if the world's going to hell without even the benefit of a handbasket. The news is dominated by stories such as Duke lacrosse players being framed; a radio talk show host who finds insulting a basketball team fodder for morning drive jokes; and an ex-Playboy bunny who lost everything, including the dignity of knowing the identity of her infant daughter's father. And those stories provide relief from the other horrors, including an ongoing war that looks more grim with each passing day.

I'm a fan of the long-defunct comic strip "Bloom County" and when things got to this point, the gentle and wise Opus would take what he termed a "dandelion break." I think Opus had the right idea. Now, I'm not advocating being an ostrich and putting on blinders to the very serious problems the world faces on a daily basis. (And yeah, I know I'm mixing my metaphors, but c'mon - doesn't the image of an ostrich wearing blinders make you chuckle just a little bit? Okay, then.) I'm just suggesting a three-day fast from the media. Don't watch the news (it's horrible and it'll be horrible when you turn it back on), don't read the newspaper, don't even check out the online versions. Listen to music on the radio rather than talk shows. When an actor playing a lawyer suggests that you're sick and it's somebody else's fault and you should call immediately, change the channel. Spend that chunk of time engaged in activities that make you see the good side of things. It really doesn't take any more time; we're just not used to it, having become addicted to swallowing the prepackaged mayhem the media tells us we're to be concerned about.

Start small. Take a walk in your own neighborhood. In mine, the dogwoods are blooming, tulips and irises are competing for the title of "most likely to be picked," and gardens are beginning to be cultivated in anticipation of the coming months - always a sure sign that people are planning for a future that's better than war and custody battles. Here, it's spring break for the schoolkids. Talk to one - they're not all the amoral, self-centered little jerks that all too often the papers would have you think. Smile at people - where I'm from, this is common; in other parts of the country, it'll make 'em wonder what you're up to. When you're waiting in line, strike up a conversation that doesn't include speculating on the educational level and/or parentage of the cashier.

We're often told that "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," the idea being that God (or Spirit, or however you like to think of it) gave you what you have because you can shoulder it. Funny how most of us think that only applies to the nasty, sharp-edged circumstances of our lives, like the loss of a job, a serious illness, or a marriage whose center can no longer hold. I don't know about you, but I always found that pretty cold comfort. But just imagine what might happen if you applied that same adage to the good stuff in your life. Maybe you're ready to handle good fortune without going off the deep end and becoming a world-class wingnut. And maybe you already have good fortune and you just haven't noticed for a while.

So seek and see what ye shall find. Give up (just for three days) reports of misery and despair and look for the dandelions. I bet you find a couple.

Oh, and a picture from the play rehearsals. That might jump-start your smiles.

6 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I've almost given up radio completely for audiobooks, which make driving much less stressful and often quite pleasant. I recommend them.

Stacked Librarian said...

"Who are you that is so wise in the ways of happiness?"

Very good advice my friend, very good advice. You should never watch the news while eating.

Akin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Akin said...

Good Lord, is that some sort of snake attacking that poor man? Mayhap a tentacled brainsucker feasting on it's prey?

:-p

I often wish I didn't work as I do, where I so rarely encounter the good side of mankind... but then again, someone has to try to stop the idiots before they take over. A hopeless task, I know; when I find a smiling parent supervising junior as he carves his name in a tree here in the Zoo/Botanical Gardens, I often feel despair for the future... of course, when I kick them out with no refund, it slightly makes up for it. And, if they give me any crap and I decide to make an arrest... heh...

BTW I agree with the bit about podiobooks... I'm working my way through 7th Son right now, and I have many podshows that I subscribe to; I rarely if ever listen to the broadcast radio, and I can't really recall when I last watched TV. Although, Drive is starting up...

amnbdad said...

Wow! You put that out there for everyone to see. Wow! Glad that's not me.

Allen said...

The news is quite repetitive and almost moronic in the way the big networks deliver it. Oh yeah, I also want to slam on Bill O'Reilly 'cuz sso called "journalists" (loose term) like him are one of the reasons the world is so polarized and mean-spirited. I also agree with the comment to never eat and watch the news at the same time as it is horrible for the digestive tract.