My doctor told me to stop watching the news, and for the most part I've done it, except for occasional forays into the local weather. Can't help but think he made the right call, there. Nothing on the news is ever good. It's a long parade of murders, rapes, arson, impending financial disasters, chaos, mayhem and serial killers stalking beautiful, smart, assertive professional women in Large City (oh, wait, that's an episode of Criminal Minds.) Really nothing there that will improve my mood at all. He didn't say to stop browsing CNN and MSNBC online, but I imagine he would have, if it had crossed his mind. He would probably also tell me to stay out of the chat rooms, where I taunt the stupid hornets in their stupid plastic-bubble hornet's nests until they come out and yell at me. (As I said, they're fairly stupid hornets.)
Okay, I haven't done such a good job of quitting the chat rooms. Or staying off CNN and MSNBC altogether. Recently I've wandered over to such gems as RHRealityCheck and NAPW, and if those don't thoroughly piss you off, there's always Mother Jones and BadBreeders. Believe me, if you want outrage and fury and a loss of all hope for the future of the human race, your Internet can do that for you.
Mind you, I don't know why I read this stuff. It's kind of the equivalent of repeatedly poking a sore tooth with your tongue. If I knew of a Web site that only had happy stories about fluffy bunnies and cute smiling toddlers and pictures of kittens, I might go there. But I don't. Kittens do not create bandwidth traffic. Outrage creates bandwidth traffic.
Yet somehow, according to Buddhism, all this has to be okay. Not just "That stuff exists, but I'm going to ignore it and be marginally happy," but really, truly okay. We gotta be in the world, with all the suffering that there is, and totally accept it--because only by totally accepting it can we hope to change it.
I hate stupid rules like that. They give me headaches.
Turns out, though, that there isn't much of an alternative. Either you're mindful and engaged with the world, and fully accepting of whatever's going on at the present moment, or you're not, and if you're not, you ain't gonna be happy, y'all. (Me: In the present moment, sitting at my dining room table, in my jammies, typing this and drinking coffee. Well, not typing and drinking at exactly the same second, but you know.) If your brain is off making future plans while your body is, say, washing the dishes, all you're gonna get out of it is clean dishes and confusion. I don't know the exact formula for happiness, but I do know the perfect formula for misery: Dwell on all the things that went wrong in the past, plan all the stuff you're going to do in the future, and forget entirely about today. Yep, that'll do it faster than any Web site I've ever been to.
So. Can I totally accept the morons in suits trying to pass laws to re-enslave American women, the famous pastors in Georgia and South Carolina that want to send me to a concentration camp (or just kill me), the sweet but deluded folk in Utah that think I'm going straight to the fiery pit (maybe without even dying first!), and the congressman who would happily let me die of an ectopic pregnancy if it meant the fetus got big enough to save? That is a totally unfair question, and I protest. I want to work on accepting the fluffy bunnies and the cute smiling toddlers and the pictures of kittens first. The kittens are the hardest, since they raise my blood sugar. In the meantime, I'd be fine with all those other guys existing, as long as they would stop hurting people and stay far away from me. Turns out, though, you don't really get a choice on those things. Like I said, it's a dumb rule.