It’s not what you put in your mouth
It’s what you put in your brain.
If I ever pursued my PhD, I would choose the thesis “Americans will put anything in their mouths.” There’s enough news stories where I’m pretty sure I could prove it to a committee of academics. Florida and Wisconsin headlines alone could carry me to “doctor status.”
But today as we prepare for Thanksgiving and time with family and friends. I’m starting to wonder about what gets into our brains via the screens…TV, computers, phone, etc.
It doesn’t matter your beliefs, or sources of news and media (there is a difference, but that’s for another time) to know that deep down something has gone horribly wrong. One of the headlines I woke up to today was “How your Thanksgiving turkey became a proxy in the latest political war.” I have to admit I swore under my breath. Really? Turkeys? Can’t anyone give us one day of peace from making everything about politics? Can’t we just try to be happy and relaxed for one flipping day out of the year? Just one?
I know the old arguments. That’s not what sells and hey you’re looking at it aren’t you? That used to only refer to the porn industry, but now it’s our political channels. Hooked into some deep part of our brain, seeking tribe and belonging in this time of isolation.
Maybe we’ve given politics and all the ilk that comes with it, too much access to our private lives and thoughts. Given their behavior in front of cameras and grubby thumbs on Twitter…do they really deserve that kind of access? Do they really make us better human beings? Or just trigger angry, irrational thoughts with rhetoric, exaggerations, half-truths, or sometimes flat out outrageous lies. Do they actually believe what comes out of their mouths anymore? Do they see only wickedness in their peers and humanity? And notice they never put forth suggestions and ideas for a better world. Instead it’s all about fences to keep us in the “tribe.” And hey, we too can participate in this “game.” Where we can taunt the other guy from across the fences. Problem is…fences don’t build bridges.
Of late, I’ve been trying to limit my news to under an hour a day. Instead the music stations and podcasts fill the spaces where needed and I feel calmer…even happier. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I still know what’s going on. And I have not missed the play-by-play of political scores in Washington. It like a geriatric Project Runway for people who went into this with good intentions; but now speak like they’ve lost their minds and sense of decency.
I don’t want that in my head. It’s my head and it deserves better.
Instead I’m more conscious of picking through the terrible word choices on screen or in the air. The injected anxiety and drama added because maybe the author has not known a world without it. After all, we have terrible attention spans now and the world of media and screens is cacophonous. And if they are loud enough, there is no space left over for reflection of what you really think and actually want.
There’s a practice in yoga where you decide that just for the day you will try something and see how it goes. Maybe no harsh words towards yourself or others. Then maybe try again tomorrow. You approach this habit-breaking meditation with more curiosity and self-compassion, than self-flagellation.
So my suggestion for today is turn off the politics and practice making space for new things. Things that make you happy. Let go of the fear and believe it will all work itself out. Simplistic and idealistic yes…but possible? Why not try if that’s what you really for the day and in life.
And if someone at a holiday gathering tries to inject some unnecessary political vitriol, find a compassion strategy. For example, fling your arms around them and in a deep hug declare, “I’m so glad we love and respect each other!” I betcha they will back the fuck off, at least by hug #2.
Either way, turn off the headlines and open your heart and look around for the good today. It may be small, or large, or growing out of hope. But find it and nurture it.
Happy Holidays all!