Moonstone Music

Musings on music composition, walks in the woods, and life after the big city.

Location: Moonstone, Ontario, Canada

I'm a music composer, clarinetist, writer, podcaster, environmentalist and warrior against the terrors of everyday living!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Too Much News

It’s a brisk morning this morning, temperature actually only 12 degrees centigrade which feels pretty cool after the 30 + degrees we had most of the summer. It’s quiet. One far off bird chirps. One car drives by. The tiniest breeze stirs the leaves every now and then. It’s very peaceful – very beautiful.

And it feels so much at odds with the thoughts whirring around my head mostly about New Orleans and the hurricane Katrina disaster. I am not personally affected, inasmuch as I am far from the area, with no relatives or friends there. But I am affected by the unbelievable jump in gas prices. And I’ll be affected by how my local economy will respond to the changing international situation. But these effects will eventually be folded into my life and I will adapt.

But the other way I am affected is through the media – Internet mostly since I don’t watch television, rarely listen to radio, and do not subscribe to newspapers. I chose to insulate myself as much as possible from the mass media because I became aware that the media were overwhelming me, changing my life into something it is not. I feel a great deal of sympathy and compassion for the people involved with the New Orleans disaster - for the dead, for the survivors, for the relief workers, including the ones who are comfortable right now in their homes in other countries, but who are bracing themselves for what they will have to do when their government sends them to help. I pray and contribute where I can. But I am not there. Katrina is not my story.

I have a responsibility to live my own life as it unfolds, in the present, with the people directly connected to me. If I am so consumed with pain for remote current events that I cannot bear to hear a neighbouring child’s voice raised in play, then I am not a good citizen. If I am so caught up in dramatic visual images of death, destruction that I cannot enjoy the calm beauty of a quiet pine tree standing tall, but must search the Internet for even more thrilling pictures, then whose life am I living?

Being a news junkie does not make me a good citizen, but it does devalue the things I am actually doing. I find I periodically go through these lapses, where a world event like Katrina occurs and I relax my personal rules about how much net surfing I allow myself. I tell myself I’ll just check two sites, maybe – no they’re on lockout, scratch that – and , just to see what’s going on. And I’ll follow maybe one link, and maybe another, and suddenly I no longer feel my chin braced awkwardly on my hands, nor do I feel the foot that’s going to sleep because my mind is filled with images, dramas, and feelings of astonishment, revulsion, compassion, horror – all kinds of things. And one hour later, when I come to, what has happened in my world? I have strained my eyes, my neck and my leg. The slanted early morning sunlight has changed to the flatter midday brightness and I have missed it. I have ignored the hummingbirds flying past my window. I have entirely failed to notice the regular morning stroll of the neighbourhood black and white cat through our front yard bushes. And when Nick pokes his head in the door to ask when we’re going to do Tai Chi as planned, I grumpily bite his head off. And I know I am not me in that moment. My mind is still contemplating floodwaters in Louisiana even as my body is quite obviously here in Canada. It’s a huge disconnect and one that I find personally extremely uncomfortable.

So once more I resolve to not let myself surf the net for more than 5 minutes. I’ll apologize to Nick, hope that I’ll catch the cat in an afternoon promenade, and watch for the hummingbirds. Yes, I will try to maintain enough of an awareness of events so that I can vote for my local government responsibly. But no one else can create the music that is in my head except me. And no one else can describe my world except me. And I know at least some of my limitations. I know that my focus on music and writing is fragile, and can easily be swept away by exposure to too much media. So I must stand guard, and remember where my life actually is. And then live it.


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