I had a good, long visit this afternoon with a friend -- a former FGS colleague -- who is stuck at home recovering from having her appendix removed. She's not well enough to go out and do stuff but is definitely well enough to be bored, so she asked me to come over and help her stay amused, which led to a good four-hour conversation.
But here's my point, the reason I told you all of that irrelevant stuff about my friend: She disagreed with my statement that this summer is a particularly grim season in terms of world events. Basically, her attitude is that things are always pretty terrible and that maybe some folks are paying more attention to the awfulness but that doesn't mean that things are more awful; things are always awful.
I actually think that this is a worse season -- essentially a perfect storm in terms of U.S. violence, terrorist violence around the world, and the horror that is Trump. And it has really affected me; I've been so down and emotional, I've had more than one day in which I crawled back into bed to hide from the world, or spent ages playing mindless games on my iPad, and I spent a week stuffing my face, using food as a security blanket. I've been reacting in some of the ways described in today's New York Times article about the effects of "a constant cycle of violent news." (With the exception of worrying that perhaps I'll be a target of violence, although I've absolutely seen that fear in my dad's wife, who is now afraid to ride the subway.)
But this past Saturday night, I was babysitting for a friend so that she and her husband could go out for dinner, which meant that I had 2 1/2 hours of total quiet while the baby was sleeping. And in that utter peace and quiet, I did some serious thinking, in which I decided that neglecting or actively being unkind to myself (by, for example, eating tortilla chips and hummus for a full hour, as I had done just that afternoon) wasn't actually helping anyone. The world was no better a place because I had eaten way too much food and then felt sick afterward.
So last Sunday I started a new era of healthy eating; I'm now on Day #6 and feeling pretty good. Not that this is a political action that makes life better for anyone else, but at least it's making me feel better in my own body, and that's not nothing.
And then tonight, inspired by my conversation with my friend, I went through my FB feed and unfollowed the folks whose posts tend toward the hysterical or unthoughtful. I have wanted for a week or so to limit my social media, which isn't helping my general sense of equanimity, but I didn't want to go on a FB fast altogether because I have some really interesting and smart friends. I'm hoping that cutting my FB newsfeed almost in half will help my social media exposure be smaller and more nourishing.
I'm sure that it's not helping that it's summer. Most of each day is unscheduled, and I spend a lot of time alone. Plus, my partner is recovering from joint surgery and has gotten hooked on the 24-hour news cycle, which is NOT helping my emotional state. (I am one of those people who can't have the TV on in the background; if the TV is going, I'm watching it.) So I'm going to try to have regular times in which I check the news, and I'm going to resist the felt need to then stay on top of details as they emerge. This isn't hiding under a rock but rather deliberately deciding how much time and attention a particular event or series of events should get. So when I've had enough, she is wearing headphones so that I don't hear the newscast.
In other words, I'm trying to be mindful about my own equanimity.
(And yes, I'm writing this particular post as a military coup unfolds in Turkey, the news of which is getting to the world through video and social media.)
(Also, I'm perhaps making my emotional state sound more dire than it really is. I've had interesting conversations and read good books and gone for walks and watched good movies and all the rest of what goes into a summer. I've just also been far more fretful and down than I usually am -- some of which is called for in the light of world news, but which needs to be monitored so that it doesn't spiral down.)