Seeing as I can be a bit of a control freak and what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico is beyond my control, is it any wonder that I have unofficially declared a moratorium on all news related to it?
This is temporary, of course. I pride myself on being an informed citizen. I am, in fact, almost hyper in that regard.
But right now I cannot watch another image of oil-slicked animals, devastated people losing their livelihood, and – especially – my fellow media types latching on to politicians’ utterances about it in a series of ‘he said, she said’ moments or ‘blame game’ finger pointing that furthers the discussion not a lick.
Instead, I am watching Lady Gaga on Larry King Live. That’s right. Oil spill, unbearable. Lady Gaga, entertaining and fascinating. The scale tilts to Lady Gaga. Last week I re-Tweeted one of her Twitter posts – now there’s words I never dreamt I’d say – and here’s what it said:
In a Pub in England, ruining bar napkins with lyrics and memories. Dreams are never weak like we are, drunk or sober.
Anyone who knows my penchant for creatives and what drives them has no doubt why this Tweet resonated with me. With all the technology at our disposal, this woman with the outsized fame is doodling her thoughts on bar napkins. Isn’t that fabulous?
This appreciation for others’ process seems to be a running theme in my break from the BP headlines and images. I figure it makes me a more well-rounded person and a more nuanced life coach to turn my attention from the cable news networks for a while and instead take in the Henri Cartier-Bresson photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. And to go with a professional photographer friend who made the experience richer by explaining that good photographers crop in camera, that this artist’s eye was genius at spotting angles, that his work has heavily influenced hers.
Yes, instead of scouring half a dozen columns for more opinions on the role of government in stopping oil spills (or gushing of mammoth proportions, as it were), I paused to remember the life and work of artist Louise Bourgeois. She died this week at age 98 and it moved me to recall seeing her retrospective at the Guggenheim a few years ago and to read about how her childhood experiences not only shaped her art, but in many cases were her art.
Rather than dwell on all the I-told-you-so commentary about our nation’s oil consumption, I read an interesting article called “Why Men Fail” in the March issue of Men’s Health magazine passed on by a friend who thought I’d enjoy it. He was right. Writer Mike Zimmerman references a van ride he was taking with Matthew McConaughey while interviewing him for a story when he had a self-described epiphany.
“There are no successful cynics,” Zimmerman writes. “Think about it: Real success, any way society measures it – money, fame, happiness, family – cannot be achieved in the presence of cynicism.”
The writer – who bases this on his many interviews done with the likes of Derek Jeter and Anderson Cooper -- confesses to being a cynic, but eventually embraces a “sincere belief in sincere belief.” I was a little disappointed that he dismisses “think positively” and “be optimistic” as “self-help nonsense,” but I thoroughly appreciated his larger point.
“Cynics put their finger on the disease before they put it on health,” McConaughey told him. “It’s the easy way to go.”
Sad. And not limited to men by a long stretch. But I love the writer’s recognition of that in himself and hopefully his readers took a moment to look within as well.
Really, there is so much to think about and to do that feeds our better selves. We can read things that help us grow (The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz is my latest), take the kids to the park, spend time with a senior citizen who would treasure it so, power walk, meditate, visit a place that feeds the spirit, or sink into a poolside lounge chair for some rejuvenation after a long day.
This is not a suggestion to abandon our fellow Americans heavily affected by this incomprehensible oil spill or to take the apathetic route. It is encouragement to find something constructive and productive to do with the time you might be spending wallowing in a crisis that makes you feel helpless and frustrated.
It certainly has my inner control freak in a spin. Might as well feed my intellect and fill my creative well until the spinning stops.