Friday, July 21, 2006

A Valid Question, Sometimes: 'Who Cares?'

It's easy to do. I do it myself. Turn on any TV newscast, or read headlines on a newspaper, or on the internet, and it's easy to become kinda jaded.

Terrorism here.
Disasters there.

Newscasts are made up of almost entirely negative things. Sometimes even awful and grisly things. After 58 minutes of making us depressed and/or scared to death, they throw in a little, 2 minute segment at the end: Man saves cat. Dog saves drowing boy. Kids raise money for victims. That sort of story, which is supposed to make us leave the newscast feeling good about life. But, not surprisingly, that 2 minute blurb at the end gets totally lost under the previous avalanche of depressing stories. Afterwards, it becomes all too easy for us (me) to shake our heads & say: 'Who Cares?'

Natalie Merchant had a really great song on her first solo CD, "Tiger Lily". The song was entitled 'Where I Go'. It was a simple, soft, acoustic-laiden song. Natalie's beautiful & extremely recognizeable voice is a perfect compliment to the positive beat and lyrics. The song is about getting away from everything, and going to a river, and letting go of all of the daily burdens that we become buried under.

'Well, I go to the river to soothe my mind,
ponder over the crazy days of my life,
to sit & watch the river flow...'

Last wk, on vacation, I had a chance to do just that -- go to the river. I used to get there quite often, especially in the fall and spring. It's the perfect, peaceful place to go and just watch clouds, or birds, or listen to the river flowing by. I hadn't been down there for almost a yr, and probably longer. That simple thing that I loved so much, somehow got lost in the bombardment of blinking lites and technology that I immerse myself in -- much in the same way in which that 2 minute segment at the end of the newscast gets lost.

Those of you who have been faithful readers of this blog, will no doubt realize that I think that the John Huston film, 'Moby Dick' (with Gregory Peck as Capt. Ahab) is the best film ever -- or, at least, my favorite film. I think this is the 3rd blog where that film has made some sort of appearance or reference. Anyway, the great tale begins with one of the most famous introductions in literature, spoken by the voice of the story's teller:

"Call me.... Ishmael. Some years ago, having little or no money,
I thought I'd sail about, and see the oceans of the world.
Whenever I feel grim & spleenful,
whenever I feel like knocking people's hats off in the street,
whenever it's a damp, drizzly November in my soul,
I know it's high time to get to sea again.

Choose.... any path you please,
and ten to one it carries you down to water.
There's a magic in water that draws all men from the land,
leads them over hills,
down creeks & streams & rivers
to the sea...

... The sea -- where each man, as in a mirror -- finds...
... himself.

There's alot of truth in that. I was grateful for the opportunity last wk to go to my aquatic refuge -- the river. It was just what the Dr. ordered, and I was reminded of how much I had missed that simple get-away.

So now, fully a week back into the old grind of work, I'm trying not to throw my hands up in the air, and say 'Who Cares?'. The next time my soul feels it's own damp, drizzly November, I'll try to make a conscious effort to escape down to the river 'to soothe my mind'. Unlike my dirty reflection in the anonymous message, scrawled by someone's finger on the dusty window of an empty building -- I'll look into the clear reflection of a crisp, clean river. And maybe, once again, as in a mirror, I'll find...

... myself.

(Here is a link to a great song/music video by R.E.M., called "Find The River").


  1. Wow is all I can say.. Sometimes we seem to forget things that mean so much to us yet so simple. Thank you for the reminder..

  2. Great post! I'm going to read that one several times.

  3. I agree with my better half. That's great reading.

    I don't know if you have read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. In it, the narrator struggles with himself for being addicted to, and intensely frustrated by, newscasts. He spirals down in a deep depression brought on by news of war, starvation and crime.

    Maybe the responsibility we all have is to create something good around ourselves and not kill ourselves over things we can't control. We can do a lot to remind each other of the small things that make it all worth while. Like a quiet stream on a quiet day. Great idea.

  4. Great post and nice reminder. I like this one!

  5. gosh...I'm reminded of when I lived on a remote Scottish Island..I'd spend hours by the river..fresh , new and ever changing. I didn't realise how lucky I was at the time. We should all take the time to find the person inside that we are..and lose the person we feel we ought to b