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Ocean Waves and Campfire Haze

May 31, 2017

  

I recently took one of those scientifically proven-to-be-accurate [not] Facebook polls and learned with absolute certainty that Summer is my personality's season. There's a real shocker. Come to think of it, I might've skewed the results slightly by taking the aforementioned poll after spending five hours on the beach soaking up as much Vitamin D as my body could hold. 

 

Lately I've been trying to cut back on my news intake since I was beginning to suffer from Newstigestion, also called CNNsepsia, defined as a persistent or recurrent pain or discomfort in the brain, heart, and stomach, whose primary symptoms are caused by too much stressing over White House press briefings, international spy incidents, Russian hacking, and the real nut job in the White House.

 

But after spending a week in exhaustive relaxation in Provincetown with some best friends, I tuned back into the world at large only to be horrified that children are once again targets, this time being blown to bits after doing what kids do - sing along and take selfies at a pop concert.

 

Human-on-human violence is not new to the world. Neither is human-on-nature or human-on-animal violence. Violence is a behavior found throughout human history. If we weren't living now, we very well could have lived through the Crusades,  Holocaust, or any number of unspeakable atrocities committed by our own species against one another. Actually, our perceptions may be skewed in this era of 24-hour news cycles. According to the New York Times, the world is trending away from violence. 

Declining violence or not, the more I learn about the world around me, the more I yearn for the quiet of a deserted beach at sunset or the smoky crackle of a campfire. I was never a huge fan of big cities, loud parties, or crowded gatherings, although I spent years working and playing in and around Manhattan. I'm a country girl. I'm a summer girl. I gravitate towards solitude and quiet, towards the haze a campfire displaces over your head as night settles in the damp woods. 

 

These days, I tend to seek out spaces that aren't filled to capacity not simply because this solitude helps me contact my authentic self, but because it also feels safer to me. I'd rather end up in the emergency clinic for a tick bite than a missing limb from a backpack bomb. And I hate that. I hate that the terrorists are succeeding at making me think about safety more than I already do as a lesbian living in a Trump-eat-Trump world. 

 

The Huffington Post published an article called "A Zen Master's Advice on Coping with Trump," but I think it also applies to coping with terrorism and random acts of violence, too. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese social and environmental activist believes that "mindfulness gives people the ability to find peace in themselves so that their actions come from a place of compassion." 

 

In the same article, James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine said, "Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness."

 

Sure, my initial inclination is to detach myself and watch the sunset on Race Point Beach in Provincetown or settle in for the night in a remote cabin on a solo camping trip in Shenandoah National Park. These activities are somehow rooted into the very core of my personality, in what makes me who I am. But, I'm also needing to get away in order to find a space inside me that isn't angry or frustrated or annoyed. Because I don't want to be the kind of person who lashes out at someone for not having the same political views as I do. I don't want to be the type of individual who complains and rails against the ills of our society simply because it's easy to bitch without offering solutions. I'd rather be the type of person who stays in the loop, but whose actions are rooted in kindness, in genuine caring and compassion, in wanting to understand the truth beyond the political spectrum.

 

And if that means having to take more timeouts to the beach or into the woods, so be it. If that means needing to partake in more guided breathing sessions with my Fitbit Charge 2, okay. I'll do it. Deep breath in. Then exhale. In with the good. Out with the bad. 

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