October Mindfulness Challenge – Day 5

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I know people who love getting the news. They love checking their favorite news website(s) as they sip their morning joe. They love turning on the TV first thing in the morning to check the traffic and weather, and to learn about whatever tragedies and catastrophes happened since their head hit the pillow the night before.

I used to be one of these people (and by “used to,” I mean last week). Sure, I haven’t watched The Today Show or GMA or [insert your favorite morning news program here] since we got rid of cable a few years back. But up until I began this October Mindfulness Challenge, one of the very first things I’d do each morning was sit down at my computer to check the news, first on Twitter and then on BBC.com, it being my news source of choice as I tried in vain to find a non-biased domestic alternative. I think it all started after 9/11, when every morning I was fearfully expecting to hear about another attack. It didn’t take long to become a nasty habit, and one that only served to cause me anxiety rather than provide me with any valuable news.

I can’t tell you how peaceful I’ve felt since quitting all that nonsense five short days ago. I have no idea what’s going on in the world. I have no idea what’s going on down in D.C. I have no idea what’s been happening in Pittsburgh or even my own county. And you know what? I feel great about it. Literally. I haven’t felt this calm and anxiety-free in years. Decades maybe.

You know what I did today? I took a walk along a path through an old farm meadow. I listened to the birds. I inhaled the goldenrod and admired the pink and purple cosmos. I stepped in a bunch of mud (it’s been raining a lot here lately). And never, not once, did I worry about some election or global warming or some rogue leader hitting the launch button. I just walked and breathed and took it all in.

Part of me feels irresponsible about this, and not just because I wasn’t making any money while I was strolling across the meadow (sorry, hon). I mean, shouldn’t I be paying attention to what’s going on in the world, in my country, in my own backyard? I’m not sure. I mean, unless I plan on taking some form of action, just knowing about what’s going on in the world around me isn’t changing anything.

I think it’s more important to regularly talk to your neighbors, your church members, your friends, your family members, your local shopkeepers, etc., find out what’s going on in their lives and then provide help and support where it’s needed. Sure, there may be a monster cyclone devastating some country in the South Pacific right now, but unless I plan on donating money for the recovery or flying over there myself to help, watching it on the news is nothing more than long-distance rubbernecking.

I think I’d actually watch or read the news if it was both informative and useful. I think that’s what it used to be way, way back in the day, before TV and radio and the Internet, before we knew about every horrible thing that was happening across the country or across the globe. But I’m not gonna hold my breath for that to happen. When it’s time to vote, I’ll do the research on my own so I can make an educated choice. If I want to know what’s happening in my hometown, I’ll attend a council meeting or spend some time upstreet chatting with the townsfolk at the local cafe. If I want to know what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow, I’ll find out instantly on my phone. I don’t need to wait ’til later in the broadcast — after I they tell me about all the local house fires and car crashes — to get “the complete 5-day forecast from StormTracker 8000!”

Geez. Just talking about the news has gotten me all bitter and stressed out. Maybe I’ll head back out to the meadow to clear my head.

(Just don’t tell my wife.) ~

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Copyright © 2018 Valentine J. Brkich

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