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. . .

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4 Responses to “Dropping out. . .”

  1. I can imagine worse things than to drum, walk, and spend time with one’s beloved. The daily news cycle is pretty harsh on the heart, and yes, not much really seems to change. I often feel downhearted, or yes, angry. Still, there are birds and sun and plants, and friends, and beloveds…. I am forever reminded of Tolkien, “Not all that is threatened is lost”….

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  2. Nor will it be, as long as there are those who remember where they came from.

    This weekend, we honored the birthday of an Elder – a spry, loving man of 80 who lives at least 20 years younger than that. Surrounded by dozens of those whose lives he’s touched, we celebrated. Not his life. Not his years. But his presence. To feel the love that was there was to truly be reminded of what matters – to understand and see exemplified what it means to walk in beauty. . .

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  3. I’ve been working through a similar process myself, and at each level of “drawing the wagons close” as you put it, I find myself more refreshed and aware, with more energy to put into my life’s work, my local community, the land around me, etc. I certainly don’t regret the loss of knowing what celebrity is pregnant or divorcing, or hearing the talking heads debate endlessly just to hear themselves talk.

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  4. It’s amazing how desparately people cling to that stuff. Generations of conditioning can be a tough thing to walk away from. . .

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