Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done for almost 2 months I. I never thought I would go this long without doing it either. But, almost accidentally, I have abstained from almost any news almost two solid months. And to my surprise, not only have I not missed it, I’ve enjoyed my life so much more without it. The irony of this discovery is that I have been a news junkie since I could crawl.
My parents were both academics, and, worse, my mother is a historian, so current events and – gasp – politics were not only mentioned at the dinner table, they were served with the main course. Then I joined the Writer’s Project in May. On the first night our mentor mentioned that he had started shutting out media that didn’t contribute to his life. It planted the seed.
My already busy life became even more scheduled as school let out and the workshop ramped up. But the increased activity nurtured that seed, and I accidentally discovered a life without internet news or Sunday morning noise shows. I only noticed the change a few days ago when, blessed with a few precious minutes of downtime, I checked my TV site for what was happening on my soap. After catching up on who might be coming out of a coma and who was really adopted, I switched over to a news site for a quick dose of all-depressing-all-the-time.
Fortunately, the politicians and the media that covers them didn’t disappoint – or maybe they did. After a month away, more had changed on a fictional soap that depends on slow story lines for survival, than in a political media landscape that is, theoretically, supposed to serve ‘the people’. The politicians and their echo chamber still seemed more intent on feeding into and off of fear and discord. The only themes were what was wrong in the world and why it’s that person-you-should-be-against’s fault. In short, the song was the same as it was a month earlier.
So after a few minutes, I consciously shut off the news blogs and came back to my own blog and doodles, determined to make my own music. I’ve been nurturing it already by writing and doodling and reading, responding to comments here and in our group, and so far, I like this tune. Writing is cathartic for most people, so it could be seen as a completely selfish endeavor. But as I see more comments and emails from people I’ve never met (sometimes around the world) I hear notes plucked from the common threads that the media, so often it seems, wants to drown out. I hear from other mothers who are frazzled and imperfect but still trying. I hear from our group of artists no longer content to see themselves as wannabes (I wasn’t the only one). And, in the absence of fear, suspicion or jealousy, there is the freedom to grow and, in turn, to foster growth. And this music is much better.