Meaning, Mind

A Personal Reflection

“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

When writing, I rarely use ‘I’, instead opting for ‘we’.

That’s because usually what I write about is something associated with the human experience so a collective ‘we’ makes sense. But I was reading Chesterton recently, and he said (and I am paraphrasing) that he had to speak of himself, because although it may be interpreted as egoistical, he had to risk that in order to be sincere. So, it is in a similar vein of sincerity that I am using ‘I’.

I am, like many people in the world I think, feeling significantly displaced.

It’s a constant struggle. I am trying to live in my reality; the reality of my child, my husband, my family, my dog, my house, my garden, my road, the birds, the trees, the fields and mountains. My duties, my responsibilities, my hopes and dreams and worries. My reality, which I would say, is actual reality. But like a wolf knocking at my door, I feel constantly hounded. Through all the different media outlets, we are constantly bombarded with hostility and pure misery from every corner of the globe. So not only do we have to deal with the low points that naturally come as part of our own lives, but now we must shoulder the miseries of the world too. It sometimes feels like my day is not my own, and how it goes is not down to me.

Tommy Tiernan, the comedian, once observed that every time he turns on the telly he’s told that the world is falling apart. In hast and horror, he looks out his window and sees, to his amazement, that the sun is shining and the world is still spinning. That’s how I feel. I feel like here, in my reality, the world is whole. But then I look at my phone, turn on the telly, or open a magazine and I am told, in no uncertain terms, that we are in a perpetual state of crisis-cue panic and dread. And gone are the days of 6 pm news where we all tune in for half an hour to gather the hot topics of the day. It is every single second, of every single day. With every breath we inhale more misery served to us through the media.

So, in saying all that, I feel like it’s time to make a decision and choose my reality.

This shouldn’t be mistaken for a ‘stick your head in the sand and ignore the problems of the world’ approach. But there is a huge gaping space between ignorance and obsessive consumption. I will say this blatantly- I feel like media consumption is rotting me from the inside out. All of these things that are apparently meant to ‘connect us’, are in fact tearing us away from what makes us whole. And happy. They are overloading us with worry and sadness in relation to things me and you can do nothing about. In paying attention to the woes of the globe, we are missing out our own lives that are carrying on whether we are paying attention or not.

If we are extremely lucky, we have a good 80 years on this planet.

And that’s all folks. It’s all over. I can honestly say that in that time I want to spend it in my reality, with my family and the dogs and birds and mountains. I want to shoulder my responsibilities and my own load. I do not want to have a sense of dread constantly hanging over me that the world is falling apart. My world is whole, and it’s here, in front of me. Stop telling me it’s not how I see it. Because it’s exactly how I see it.

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest man thinks he must attend to in a day ; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.”

Henry David Thoreau, Golden Age of Achievement, 1846
William Blake, The Ancient Days, 1794
William Blake, The Ancient Days, 1794
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