You wake up in the morning, have a good stretch, make a pot of coffee and sit down to read about what’s going on in the world – on the Internet, in the newspaper, or wherever. And the more you read the bigger and darker becomes the cloud. You know the cloud I’m talking about. The cloud of human misery and strife and conflict. For me, this has become a detrimental routine, one that often comes close to ruining my whole mood for the rest of the day, that is if I allow it. But resistance is difficult, as I am nowhere near desensitized enough to resist the negative impact of so much tragedy and chaos. Some people are desensitized enough. I am not one of them. So after an hour of reading about rape and child neglect and infanticide, terrorist attacks and chemical weapons and car bombs, animal abuse and sex trafficking and rioting anarchists, corrupt politicians and the various cruelties carried out by asshole teenagers, and the current, seemingly unstoppable, cultural trend toward moral degeneracy, I am emotionally and mentally drained by the time I close my laptop. As much as I believe in awareness and staying informed, these days I’m regretting the routine every time. It just makes me sick. Beam me up Scotty, I’ve had enough.
Daily routines are not inherently harmful of course. On the contrary, routines can impart feelings of consistency, stability, and clearheadedness. For some people it’s a morning jog before work, for others a workout at the gym after work. For others still it’s painting or writing at the crack of dawn, or walking the dog, or even 20 minutes in the garden just picking a few weeds. A routine can also be something as simple as a morning phone call to check in on a parent or elderly loved one. Before my grandmother passed away, my Mom used to call her every single morning, a routine on my mother’s part that meant the world to grandma.
I’ve noticed that on the days when do I deviate from the first-thing-in-the-morning newsreading routine and replace it with something else – running, yoga, writing emails, making a fruit salad, tinkering around the house etc – I really do feel better, like I haven’t yet been “contaminated” by the evils and wretchedness of the world. My outlook and disposition remains truer to the person I am, who is loving and hopeful. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but I don’t want to defile my soul either. Well at least not first thing in the morning!
Routines, like habits, are hard to break. So while I can’t shut myself out from the news completely, I might consider moving the routine from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, when it can’t pollute my thoughts, hamper my productivity, distract me, or dampen the joy that my spirit intrinsically holds. I’m a pretty happy person generally. But the news headlines seem determined to convert us all into cynical, embittered nihilists. And that is very sad indeed.
Craig and I were discussing classical music the other night. I mentioned that one of the most uplifting pieces of music ever written, in my opinion, is the overture to Mozart’s comic opera The Marriage of Figaro. Jubilant, bubbly, and brisk, the overture sets a splendid, optimistic tone for the start of a day. Play pretend conductor and it’s even more fun! My new routine maybe? A million times better than the Huffington Post, that’s for sure.
Morning Light, by Childe Hassam: