“Writing is who I am. It’s not a choice.” – Quote from an unnamed fiction writer mentioned in the latest issue of Spirituality and Health
The above quote pretty much sums up my newly revised attitude about this space and my views on writing in general. Just as I need to breathe, eat, sleep and have sex, I need to write in order to be alive. That said, I need to create space, a gap around when I write and as a writer who often tends to draw from current events, I need to create space around just how much information I am consuming.
During my first yoga immersion weekend, participants were asked to unplug as much as possible which initially seemed like a daunting task when you are as connected as I tend to be. I mean unplug? I’m a news junkie, I can’t wait days to get information, I need it right when it’s happening because I need it…or do I? While I didn’t fully unplug for that first weekend, I did unplug enough to notice that when I came back to the daily grind, I wasn’t as nearly hungry to jump back into the never ending parade of negativity that doubles as news. Lately reading the New York Times that arrives in my inbox every morning before I actually engage with the world is no longer a priority. Sure, at some point I will browse through it since it probably makes sense to have some idea of what’s going on in the world but lately I find myself no longer desiring to gobble up every detail of the latest breaking news. News and current events are starting to look a lot like my relationship to chocolate and wine, an occasional glass or square of chocolate is good. However guzzling a bottle or two along with a slab of chocolate generally leaves me feeling queasy and hung-over and in an overall lousy mood physically and mentally.
I found myself thinking about this over the past few days since the verdict was reached in the Steubenville rape case, a case that is certainly tragic for the young Jane Doe. I suppose justice was served granted the mainstream media’s handling of this case leaves a lot to be desired. For the past several days, bloggers and many others have been writing, tweeting and Facebooking about this case and I am glad for it because I don’t want to write about it. We do need to make some changes in this country so that little boys don’t turn into young men who behave in such a despicable manner. We absolutely need to have dialogues on how a culture of rape exists and how we can dismantle it but I am not convinced anymore that nonstop discussion of such weighty issues is good for my mental and emotional health. In the past several days when I have ventured on to my usual online haunts, it’s clear that cases like this bring up many emotions for many women, especially any woman who has been the victim of a sexual assault. It’s important to tell our stories and not allow ourselves to be victimized again but the digital nature of how this is getting done seems like a recipe for disaster because in a 24/7 news cycle no sooner than we deal with one weighty emotional story, we are onto the next one. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, and after unplugging halfheartedly and unwillingly I can say there is great value in creating space, a gap between ourselves and the world. A gap where we exist without the constant bombardment of information and can actually exist in silence that allows us to stay tethered to our deepest selves.
Several of my professional colleagues and friends are clinical social workers who often see the worse of humanity up close and personal every day when they go to work. Most also rarely stay plugged into current events for any length of time because they recognize they need balance, and when your life’s work involves human misery on a regular basis, there needs to be limits on what one consumes.
As one of my favorite bloggers, said yesterday “Never a shortage of things to be outraged about.” She’s right; sadly we live in a world where the elimination of human misery most likely is never going to happen in our lifetimes or frankly ever. We humans are funny that way; happiness is a moving target for most of us.
PS: I am not saying to not speak up or work for the betterment of our fellow inhabitants of this rock, by all means do it. Just know when and how to achieve balance, even do-gooders suffer burn out, trust me I know.