I began my 100 Day Challenge on January 20th, 2017 in a effort to find what was real about life and to step down from participating in the “reality” show that has become our national dialog. I was not happy with my obsessive consumption of media, especially as I suspected that none of the media was neutral in intent or effect.
As an artist, I need my creativity to spring from sources deep within me. I feel confident that I can play a better role in the unfolding historical drama as a source of reflection and perspective than as a statistic in someone’s page views. As a reminder, before I began the challenge, I gave money or subscribed to every media source that I found valuable and trust that the withdrawal of my daily attention (e.g. ad $$) will be replaced by this more tangible support of their good work. I suspected that this withdrawing of my attention would be the most challenging part of this challenge, so I put it front and center.
Here is what I have learned about letting go of obsessively reading news.
- I really did do a lot of it. I found myself turning to my phone, tablet or web browser to “catch up” several times each hour from 6am to 10pm each day.
- I was deriving a lot of personal satisfaction from being the best informed person in my social circles.
- My imagination really is just about as good as the news.
- What I feel I need to do to live up to my personal mission has not changed appreciably without the daily “directions” from outside sources.
So, did I free up a lot of time by stopping the “twitch”? Not as much as I had hoped because this is an insanely busy time of year at my job so I will have to tackle my workaholism, for sure. However, I am touching and holding my phone less and I will check in after a few more percentages to see if my family appreciates the difference.
I still end up learning what is going on in the larger world, since it’s not like I am trying to become an uninformed person. But now, I learn what I know by asking people I know what they are concerned about. Wow! How different that is to approach the conversation as the person who does not know. If I learned anything from this challenge, I learned that the barrier I created (likely out of insecurity) between myself and others by being the person who knows was a barrier big enough to block my view.
I am sad to say that when I learn from people that I know, who I am sitting across the table from, what is concerning them about the world, I don’t hear much of anything that is a surprise. Not to adopt a knowing stance again, but I keep hearing from people that they “just can’t believe it”. I wonder if having a childhood soaked in apocalyptic worldviews is one reason I can’t be surprised.
Lastly, before the start of this challenge, I was a person who valued the natural environment, the social fabric of my local community and the sense that as an American, I was participating in a specific historical story about diversity and enthusiasm for the wild unknown. Not being up on the blow by blow of confirmation hearings or executive orders hasn’t changed those values. My mission in life is to be a lover. I am not hearing much from anyone these days about how to be loving, just about how to be outraged.
I heard someone say the other day that we have a human tendency to be drawn towards the car wrecks, the house fires. There is a part of us that actually thrills in the destruction as we slow the car to get our fill of the details. Even before this car wreck of a political season, I have always been the person who looked straight ahead, who refused to turn my head and look at the carnage that is someone else’s deep tragedy from the safety of my car. Heaven help me to find the place where I can stop my life and step out of my safety to offer my hands, not just my rubbernecking, to someone who needs my love.
Here is the inspiration for the cityscape textile pattern I made for the project that I will unveil tomorrow. Spring Lake is the source of the San Marcos River.