This is the day after a runoff election for mayor in my community. My candidate lost after a contentious and very uncomfortable campaign. I went to bed last night feeling sad and frustrated.
I don’t like politics. Political debates generally send my blood pressure soaring. It didn’t help that this local election was set against the backdrop of the national campaign that has Donald Trump raging on all media.
What happened to rational discourse? Maybe it never really existed outside of well written movie scripts and West Wing. (I frequently wish the writers of West Wing would run for national office.) There are effective. intelligent politicians out there. My favorite is Maine’s Senator Angus King. I admired him as an Independent Governor with some radical ideas. (Maine was the first state to institute a program for laptop computers for every middle school student.) King is an articulate, intelligent speaker. He gets excited but he maintains his dignity, respect and intelligence.
My antipathy for politics did not preclude me from running for mayor several years ago. I lost resoundingly to a man with the smoothness of Angus King, but not the commitment to community or follow thru of a true leader. I understand how ideas can light a fire in your belly that sends you out knocking on doors of strangers. I also understand how devastating it is to lose an election to someone who is not capable of long-range vision and leadership.
So what does all of this have to do with this beautiful photo of lush greenery and crystal clear waterfall? I have been seriously thinking of running away to a bit of paradise where I do not have to listen to the blowhard rhetoric of US politics or any nation’s politics. I imagine an early morning walk along a beach with my coffee rather than listening to the morning news and getting heartburn. How nice it would be to end my day listening to the sounds of nature as I sip a vodka tonic and watch the sunset.
Isn’t retirement supposed to be a time of calm reflection and the pursuit of dreams and hobbies too long set aside?
Most days of my retirement are filled with the things I want to learn and do, but I see what could be in my neighborhood and my community. I get excited by visions of artistic communities of people, green spaces, walkable communities, integrated technologies. I am inspired by positive energy and visionary ideas.
We live in a time of unprecedented access to information, but far too many people spout media sound-bites out of context and without facts to support their opinions. I have made changes in my daily routine that keep some of this at bay
#1. No television. I own a television but it is hooked up to Apple TV. No network or cable channels. Commercial free. News free. Political ad free. Ahhhh. It is peaceful.
#2. No local newspaper. I needed to be away from letters to the editor written with great emotion and little fact.
I have nurtured this media isolation for 5 years and so enjoy the peace of mind.
#3. For 25 years, NPR has been my radio station of choice, but recently I have resorted to turning the radio off if I feel my blood starting to curdle during political interviews and talk shows. I prefer to listen to the radio for music.
#4. I read the New York Times online each morning. I even read the columns of people I do NOT agree with. Most of what I read is intelligent, researched and well written. I may not agree, but it is generally a thoughtful argument.
#5. I unfriend people on Facebook who persist in uninformed political rants.
So for today, deep breathing to clear my head. A little Hayden in the background. A fire to warm my back. That tropical oasis is filed away in my dreams to be revisited if Donald Trump becomes our next president.