Friday, January 23, 2009

order for the day

I have been an avid public radio listener from high school on. I would listen every morning and every evening, and later all day long at my studio. I had to stop listening to NPR's news reports and daily shows after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was deja vu all over again, and I just really could not take it anymore. I was totally pissed off and depressed by noon, a deadly combination for any human being, much less someone trying to make pretty things.

I started checking in on NPR again in the last year, mostly to follow election coverage. I've even been falling back into old habits, setting my clock to 91.7 so when I wake up, I'm listening to NPR. This morning I woke up in bed alone, my cat staring at me from the bathroom as she does almost every morning. My husband is out of town, and I was drowsily listening to a woman in Ohio talking about how she's been unemployed for months and she is probably going to lose her house. I felt very sad for her, and also sad for myself as I realized I'm exposing myself to the Doom and Gloom report and ruining my day before I even get out of bed.

While it's important to be informed, I think exposing oneself to a constant stream of bad news masking itself as information is toxic to the mind and the soul. I know many artists listen to NPR all day in their studios. Three words for you: Turn it off goddammit. That's actually four words. You are poisoning your brain and also convincing yourself that the end of the world is nigh, if only subconciously.

Being happy and optimistic these days is both difficult and neccessary for anybody paying attention to what is going on in the world. Being happy does not mean being placid or content. It just means acceptance. I think the greatest happiness comes from accepting reality. The reality is, we are going through these experiences that one could catergoize as difficult and a bit scary, because we don't know exactly where we are going to wind up.

I have faith that we will wind up in a better place, a place more grounded in reality. I believe that because I am working everyday to keep myself grounded in the present reality, and not allow myself to spin out in fear and anxiety. Some people think fear is the most logical reaction to have to our present conditions, and if you listen to the news, one could believe the whole country is running scared. I think we have to be stronger than that. Being scared is easy. When you're scared, you're helpless and you don't really have to do anything. Being optimistic and happy is the bravest thing that any of us can do, and the most difficult. Try it today.

19 comments:

  1. Amen.

    We have NPR on a lot, but when it gets to be too much, off it goes. That's the very reason I stopped watching the news on television years ago.

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  2. I've been enjoying reading your blog for a while now.

    What you said really hit home. It's funny, I have the same love/hate relationship with NPR and yes, I'm also one of those potters that would listen to NPR in my studio alot. Thank you for the not so gentle :) reminder about the news and thank you for the words of optimism. I really needed to hear that today.

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  3. I'm also a NPR and PBS junkie (we've killed our giant, bazillion channel cable box), but all media tends to take on a sensationalized FOX network view. As you so accurately said "someone trying to make pretty things" can be very difficult when the news, current events and state of mind/emotion TOTALLY affects my artmaking...

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  4. Whitney
    I agree with you totally.
    The only time i listen to NPR is in the evenings while i'm working and then only because in those hours they play classical music which is actually soothing. Allows the imagination to soar with the orchestra.
    Hugs
    Chae

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  5. I completely agree! As if being an artist isn't hard enough, adding a bunch of doom and gloom to the mix just ramps up those feelings of 'what the hell am I doing?' I'm all for music in the studio... Pandora anyone?

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  6. It's 90% attitude, I tell ya! And attitude is infectious.

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  7. Oh, I completely agree with you - we stopped watching the news in our house a long time ago and I started reading it online, where I could scan the headlines and then choose which stories I wanted to read. I even had to stop doing that for a while. I agree that it's good to keep ourselves informed but we have to see through the sensationalism. I'm worried enough about my family - most of them are on the verge of loosing their jobs - and the news keeps reporting more and more companies closing down. BUT my friend has just found herself a new job, so there must still be jobs out there, right? So it's not as bad as the news makes it sound. As Dahlhaus says, it's all about attitude.

    I struggle enough with depression as it is, and it definitely affects creativity. So I've found myself a new radio station that plays all my favourite happy tunes! Exactly what I need!

    Sorry for the long comment, but you hit a nerve, as always.

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  8. Well, I don't agree Whitney. Listening to the news and knowing what is going on in the world informs me on what is going on outside the little bubble that I live in as an Artist. I find myself irritated when people don't know what's going on. Maybe I have become immune because I listen to so much news, but I find that it helps me to plan for my future. By knowing about what is happening with the economy I am able to strategize my next move. I think knowledge is power and NOT knowing is fear. When ever I stick my head in the sand about something is when I feel most fearful. That said playing my favorite music and dancing about while working is always good for the soul.

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  9. Well, I would never advocate shutting out information about the outside world, or sticking one's head on the sand. My point us that letting in a constant stream of bad news is not helpful, nor does it make one more informed. I think everyone should selectively, and at the appropriate times, check in and get the news and information you need in order to be in touch with the world and plan for your future.

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  10. As I was reading through this excellent comment thread the following totally rang true.

    "I think knowledge is power and NOT knowing is fear. When ever I stick my head in the sand about something is when I feel most fearful."

    It made me re-think my earlier comment and had me wondering about my original take on the post, and then I read the follow up and distilled the thoughts in my head.

    "I think everyone should selectively, and at the appropriate times, check in and get the news and information you need in order to be in touch with the world and plan for your future."

    I do find that when I ignore things (work projects, personal things, etc.) they turn into huge sanity sink holes. Whereas if I had just tackled them at the get go, delving into them and being proactive they are so much less than what I was fearing. I guess that is somewhat similar to what is being discussed here.

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  11. Exactly Jerry.

    For me ignoring reality and procrastinating is the quickest route to anxiety and insomnia. I've also found that thinking about the things I have to do-- like my quarterly taxes-- is so much more painful and takes more time than actually doing them. I've really been trying to pay more attention to this the past few years because it's interesting what we resist. I'm finding more and more that I can find some pleasant aspect to almost every task I have to do, EXCEPT for writing the checks!!!

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  12. I think this is the yoga kickin' in to the bigger space of your life Whitney!....( I am working on getting mine to do the same);)

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  13. I don't know...ledbetter got overturned this week, and Obama lifted the global gag rule...Its been music to my ears and I'm tuned in again after really tuning out. It's like balm on my ears (mm ear balm). ..I've always tried to hang on for as long as I can deal with it effectively, and then take a break. There is that energizing rush from being P.O'd that I think I was addicted to for lack of a better response for a long time. I loved that bumper sticker: if your not angry your not paying attention. Its good to moderate so you don't burn up to a crisp.

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  14. I love your blog Whitney...you are as talented and gifted in your writing as in your pottery! I have been feeling the same way and today no NPR...I cranked up the Bruce Springstein on Pandora and merrily melted my glass...can't wait to open my kiln tomorrow morning! Thanks for the lift!

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  15. i can see how troublesome it could be to take in so much bad news, but i think it's all in the attitude. often the bad news makes me realize how lucky and privileged i am. plus i don't read the paper or watch the news....WHO has the time for THAT ?! to me it's all about multi tasking, and having the news read TO me is a pure treat. and it's nice to know what's going on in the world when i do peel myself out of my studio and into a dinner party or cocktail hour.

    plus what is better than car talk, this american life, or fresh air ?

    i am grateful for NPR. it's informative, amusing, and if there is something annoying (aka garrison keillor) i can shut it off and rock out to chrita's music.

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  16. Wow.
    That was really pleasant and absolutely true! I'm a total NPR junkie myself, and I have switched it over to the local jazz station in the am. Its mild so you can wake up in the morning, but still stimulating with a cup of joe!
    Nice blog, Great work!!!
    Cheers ~Chrissy :0)

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  17. Wow.
    That was really pleasant and absolutely true! I'm a total NPR junkie myself, and I have switched it over to the local jazz station in the am. Its mild so you can wake up in the morning, but still stimulating with a cup of joe!
    Nice blog, Great work!!!
    Cheers ~Chrissy :0)

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  18. Wow.
    That was really pleasant and absolutely true! I'm a total NPR junkie myself, and I have switched it over to the local jazz station in the am. Its mild so you can wake up in the morning, but still stimulating with a cup of joe!
    Nice blog, Great work!!!
    Cheers ~Chrissy :0)

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  19. I so agree with you. It's good to know there is the world out there and to love and empathize with one another. But I also want to honor the beauty and grace in the world, as well as the gift of artistry. So I'm with you on this...thanks for your blog, which I just stumbled on.

    Ann

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