So there I was, feeling reasonably sassy, having meditated, worked with clients I loved, walked in Carkeek park with a dear friend, and smooched with The Wonderful Husband.
Life was yummy until we turned on the MacNeill Lehrer News Hour.
My wellbeing went down in flames: Jobs lost. Polar caps melting. Corruption that would make a banana republic blush. I tried my usual sending of compassion to all the suffering folks on the news, but it didn't work. My sanity was down for the count.
I wanted to snarl at David and hurl a wrench at the screen. I wanted to throw dishes in the kitchen. I wanted to reach into the freezer for the carton of French Silk and eat myself into sweet chocolated oblivion amidst all the destruction. And then pass out until this whole damn mess is over.
Sisters, I'm here to tell you that there IS grace in this world: I took a deep breath and realized I had another choice: I could go sit by myself in my lovely office, and regain a tiny shred of composure.
I bid a hasty farewell to the chocolate (and David and the PBS folks) and snuggled in my favorite chair under the afghan my mom crocheted for me. And started Listening, as I'm learning to do this year as my practice.
Yikes! What did I hear inside my heart and soul? Something resembling sixteen radios full blast on different stations, ten toms caterwauling for midnight lovers, hundreds of babies screaming for breakfast, and the roar of an approaching tornado.
Not a pretty thing, sisters.
I wished I had earplugs for my inner ears.
What a mess. I couldn't find any shred of "me" in there at all.
I didn't know what to do with the cacophony but sit with it. Offer myself some compassion and kindness amid all that auditory suffering.
All I could get it down to that evening was a dull roar, but at least I wasn't going to go crazy. At least not that night.
The next morning I could "hear" myself again during my Listening time. There was grief and a shiver of anxiety inside, but it was mine, not the media's, and underneath it I could rest into a deeper peace and aliveness.
As I grew more aware that week of the racket the media makes not only "out there" but also in my heart and soul, I made two more discoveries:
- When I get my own sweet frequency scrambled, I become just another source of white noise in our white-noisy world. When I start blaring static from my own inner radio K-F**K (as writer Annie Lamott calls it), I'm not helping me. And I'm certainly not helping anyone else.
- The more I pay attention to the media, the crazier I feel. It's amazing. I go three days with no media, I'm fine: aware of suffering, doing whatever I can to help, but not crazy. One news show, or the front section of the morning paper, and I'm toast.
So, sisters, I'm on a diet. It's actually the most scrumptious diet I've ever done. It includes Dove chocolate, Tillamook ice cream, and Callard & Bowser Butterscotch.
Only one thing's restricted: the media.
See, this diet isn't about dropping pounds (though I'm not squawking if it does).
It's about losing the weight of the world.
I'm finding that the more I fast from the media, the lighter I travel. Doesn't mean I don't feel pain. It's just that when I do, it's my own, not someone else's. And traveling without all that extra weight means I can dance with my clients and friends and family more easily and gracefully.
I realize the diet will change from week to week. I also realize that, like all diets, it won't go on forever, only as long as it serves my health. Right now, I can eat my own version of media "dessert" - the Sunday New York Times - without putting the weight back on.