Lindsay Lohan. That’s already too many syllables devoted to that topic. Recently I got rid of my satellite service. No dish. No cable contract. No rabbit ears. All the news I get is from friends and from the stream. I wondered if I was missing out during the recent uprisings, but a friend told me that on the networks celebrity news continues to trump reality. Uprisings or upstarts, sometimes I tune them all out.
Lets start with investing and get that over with.
Ten years ago, the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily were favored places to find collected information and data. After being retired for a while, I started watching CNBC, mostly for the ticker, but partly to see what they were emphasizing. Internet speeds improved. Relative to my computer, the newspapers’ data continued to cost money and were out of date by a day. As deregulation and the financial crisis began, CNBC’s coverage seemed to become politicized and parochial. Some of their commentary struck me as derogatory towards anyone that wasn’t rich and living within the sphere of the financial elite. Watching it was only tenable if I left it on mute. Then I realized that the little useful info remaining could be attained with less time, effort and stress by cruising Google and Yahoo, with occasional side trips to the discussion boards on The Motley Fool and Investor Village. I traded inefficiency and stress for focused and free information.
World, national, and regional events are fascinating and vital. We are in the midst of societal changes that are far from academic. The health care debate is treated as an abstraction while people are dying from lack of care. If those were war statistics the military-industrial complex would be charging The Hill (Capitol) with proposals to save those at risk. The debates are heating up, and that’s good. People are becoming engaged. Maybe we’re just taking a circuitous route to real solutions.
Sadly, I’ve been told that despite such vital circumstances, the news remains fixated on the frivolous. Again, I retreat to the web where I can watch the news in healthily chunks without wasting time pondering the products of the paparazzi.
It snowed here on the island yesterday. One day’s snow is not a world-changing event, but it swamped the local news and the Facebook feeds. Events were cancelled. People dropped into their cocoons. There was much worry afoot. I’m from Pittsburgh and I love to ski. Driving in snow is not that big a deal, unless the snow is happening at sea level and there aren’t enough plows for the streets.
Stress comes from within, but it can be fertilized by external sources.
Yesterday, amidst my litany of worries and concerns, I noticed my neck tightening, my posture curving, and my face reddening. Then I laughed at myself. Look around and see what’s really happening, right here, right now.
My neighborhood was green. The snow hadn’t stuck. I looked across Puget Sound at the whitened wilderness of Olympic National Park. A friend called to point out an exotic and experimental Navy ship zipping by. A mating pair of bald eagles were making their parallel flights around the bay. The power was on. I felt much healthier than this time last year. There was even a weather window when the wind died and the sun came out. I went for a run.
The biggest real disappointments were a postponed dinner with a friend, a cancelled dance practice (but it will be back next week), and a delayed shipment of a book that I wanted to read.
The troubles of the world continue. Progress is made or maybe lost. But it doesn’t need my continual attention.
It is good to be aware of the rest of the world, its people, its issues, and what each of us can do. I think it is equally important to be aware of the immediate world. There’s a limit to how much worry each of us can carry. My doctors have proved to me that it is too easy to surpass that limit and create another worry: personal health. But worry is only one way to define a life.
Is there a limit to how much joy each of us can carry? I’ve never had a doctor tell me that I’ve been having too much fun. Joy is not common in the news, unless it’s the first name of a celebrity. My best source of joy has always been in my personal experience: a dance, a dinner with friends, laughing at myself, hearing good news. Yesterday I heard that a friend had driven dozens of snowy miles and braved a ferry crossing all to help another friend. I smiled and applauded, though no one else heard it. Joy is easily found within community, but it is even better when it is within eyesight, earshot and arm’s reach. (Though I am impressed how many smiles YouTube has produced.)
I watch the news to be aware of the world. But if I want to enjoy the world, sometimes the best way is to ignore the news. Turn it off, shut down the computer, and go for a walk.