Today, when I logged onto the Internet, my first impulse was to check the New York Times. I had to stop myself, after clicking the link, because I remembered that I am avoiding the news for the next ten days. However, I find that checking the Times or Andrew Sullivan is almost instinctual at this point. It's sort of strange because, honestly, nothing on those sites ever really applies to me. I don't care what mud Obama and McCain are currently throwing at each other, and the credit crunch doesn't really matter when your mortgage is safe and you never put anything on credit. So, then, why do I feel more "connected" when I know about the day's trivia?
Before too long though, I start feeling freer not knowing about it. I don't have to tirelessly search out the facts on the news of the day. I don't have to be concerned with the eternal enmity between various political factions in the culture. In fact, I don't have to get worked up over these "debates"- an audience participation trick that the news networks use to keep us watching-, which even though we're told they are "the most important issues of our entire lives", are probably as critical as debates among Star Trek geeks over how Captain Piccard treated his hemorrhoids. My life isn't really as narrow as all of this. The most important issues in my life are: my wife, my cat, tending to my garden, learning everything I can, eating well, spending time with the people I love, and developing a soul. If I have to choose between that, or spending my time reading about attack ads, mortgage crises, and Capt. Piccard's hemorrhoids... well, the choice is simple.
And, with a certain amount of time now freed, my mind wanders to things that widen, instead of narrowing, it. Of course, I'm busy translating Chateaubriand for my dissertation; but I'm also getting to read Tasso and Iamblichus. Neural connections are lighting up that otherwise might not have. I'm getting to revisit Vico and spend time cooking new dishes with Claire. We just bought a huge bag of basmati rice from the local Halal grocery store and I'm excited about that.
In general, I find that these interests lead me back to joy at a time in which my mood is still pretty woebegone. I'm not turning cartwheels just yet, but every little bit helps. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like too many things are claiming my attention these days, from ads to job duties, family to news items, trivia to wisdom. And everything in this flood of sensory input is "of the utmost importance". I would be somehow irresponsible in neglecting it. But, I feel crapulous after gorging at the trough. I think maybe my server is overloaded. I need to step out and be in the world again. It's amazing how much there still is to reality. It's amazing how the smell of cooking onions, which I can't even describe, acts as an antidote to the flood of constant, alienating information.
I'll take the onions, thanks.