Dropping out. . .
“Watch and wait get ready for the sign
There are many here among us now have not seen the light
We must send the word to all the people in the land
Go to every hill and mountain for the time is now at hand to
Light your fire
Light your fire”
– Chris DeBurgh
It’s been almost two weeks now since I made the decision to drop out. During that time, I’ve listened to absolutely no news broadcasts of any kind. I don’t watch TV anyway (I haven’t had cable for fifteen years), so it wasn’t as drastic a leap as it sounds.
I did this because I’d finally had enough of what passes for mainstream media fare these days. I’ve no interest whatsoever in seeing Hollywood gossip or the train-wrecked lives of child actors emblazoned across a neon sky in letters twelve feet tall. I’ve cut myself off from infotainment and events the rest of the general public seems to deem important. I don’t know the status of the BP oil spill, the condition of the stock market, the most popular new sitcom or who’s sleeping with Paris Hilton.
Since making the initial decision, I’ve taken daily walks across the campus of the University where I work, drummed and rattled at a memorial service for a shaman who dropped her robe, begun an all out assault on a stack of books gathering dust in my bedroom, visited hospice patients in a nursing home down the street, spent time with my fiancé, and tended the earth by taking care of the garden we planted in her yard.
I know that some would argue that I’ve turned into an ostrich, burying my head in the sandy bliss of a world of my own design, but I’ve begun to notice some very important changes in my life. The simple things have become more important. The inner dialog has started to peter out. I’m no longer fascinated by the flashing lights and preprogrammed smiles of “American Society”. And I’ve come to notice the divinity in everything. I see it in the worried faces of my neighbors. I smell it in the freshly cut crabgrass in the yard. I hear it in the laughter of a good friend’s children.
And I’m keenly aware of the two-dimensionality of popular culture, and just how many people have fallen victim to it. My coworkers chatter and buzz around me like chainsaws. Did you watch American Idol? How about Rescue Me? And they banter endlessly about “Reality Shows” as if they’re incapable of realizing just how ironic a concept that really is. I watch their inner light flicker and dance like a flashlight below the surface of a murky pond.
I see my own fading attraction to music and video games – my growing lack of interest in graphic movies. And while this most certainly can be attributed to the spiritual trip I’ve been on for the last several years, it’s also part and parcel of the process.
To sum it all up, I’ve drawn the wagons close. I’ve focused my efforts on my immediate surroundings – not to avoid the world, but to heal it. The answer is simple, really. If each of us focused on healing ourselves and our communities, there’d be no BP oil spill, wars, hunger or scandals. Love and compassion would replace fear and greed as the driving forces behind this vision we’ve created. Strangers would find themselves greeted with open hands instead of clenched fists.
I ask those of you reading this to open your hearts and perform one random act of kindness every day. Pick up papers on the street. Offer your seat on the bus to a total stranger. Put a dollar in the cup of someone begging for change.
It only takes a single falling pebble to start an avalanche. Together, we can bring the mountain down. . .