Media and Mania

My laptop perches on my warmly-wrapped lap. Sunshine covers the foot of the bed. Outside my window, sparrows twitter in the snow-dusted branches. Steve and I tap our separate keyboards, sending muffled punctuations from our two upstairs rooms into the tranquil space of our “treehouse” among the maples. It’s Monday morning, and we’re back at work, like so many others in this nation and unlike them at the same time.

 Last night, in a nod toward the culture around us, we watched half of the Super Bowl – not on a TV because we don’t own one. Oddly enough, we were able to view it on this screen. It’s been a while since I looked through that window. I recognized a lot of faces from my past encounters with the media, decades aged. (Mary Lou Retton, is that you? Kevins – Bacon and Costner, still recognizable, but changed.) The atmosphere seemed a lot more frenetic, more violent, and more stressful.

 Stress. It occurs quite naturally, of course, in physics, biology and chemistry as resistance and instability. Gravity and PMS are phenomena with which I’m quite familiar. They don’t surprise me much anymore, nor do my reactions to them. But stress occurs unnaturally in lifestyles as well, as Distress or Eustress. Philip Seymour Hoffman, found dead at 46 with a needle in his arm. Manufacturing stress, manufacturing responses – does this give us an edge? If we are “hardwired for struggle” (as Brene Brown says), can we maximize that adaptation and produce a super response? Will that response be healthy or unhealthy? Eustress, according to Wikipedia, “refers to a positive response one has to a stressor, which can depend on one’s current feelings of control, desirability, location, and timing of the stressor.” If it feels “good” to react with anger, aggression or violence to a stressor, is this healthy? If it feels “good” to respond to a stressor by self-medicating, numbing or repressing, is this healthy? If it feels “good” to elevate our molehills into mountains and complain about the weather, our weight and how busy we are, is this healthy? Are we doing ourselves a favor by pouring more stress into our system and developing collateral pathways that will make us more resilient? Or are we taxing our capacity to the point of rupture?

 My husband died from coronary artery disease, brought on by undiagnosed diabetes. Stress did help him develop a collateral artery system in his heart that made it possible for him to survive a heart attack at age 31, but he only lived 16 more years. Beware, America. Look closely at your stress levels. Make your choices wisely.

 That is all.

© 2014 essay by Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved.

Oh! The Humanity!

Internet news gives me a stomach ache.  I just feel sick after browsing through photos and videos and stories about cruelty, stupidity, fear, and all kinds of petty, human activity.  I really appreciate bloggers and others who post genuine evidence of our more noble capabilities.  Although, sometimes this is attributed to “angels among us” or some non-human inspiration.  Is kindness not a human trait?  Justice?  Wisdom?  What do we gain by hesitating to credit people for exhibiting these admirable qualities and then splashing our media with all the “awkward” examples we can fit on a screen?  Bleh…I just feel like I’ve been gorging on rancid movie popcorn.  Humans plugged into more and more machinery, morphing into robo-sapiens, give me the same sour taste.  

Please, somebody show me a living mensch!  A human being, acting gracefully.  Are there so few left?  Browsing through my photo file, I realize that only a handful of pictures actually contain people.  Is it because I find beauty in nature and form and so rarely in mankind?  

Here’s one I did uncover.  I took this shot last March.  It shows a retired thespian giving a presentation to school kids on the process of making maple sugar one hundred years ago.  He’s describing hand made tools, telling the story as if he were remembering his boyhood.  He peppers his talk with jokes to make the kids laugh and pay attention.  He is a teacher of old ways, engaging with new minds, passing on a respect for trees.  He’s not doing it for remuneration or applause, he’s doing it because it’s important to him.  And I think he’s a good example.  Can you show me others?  My stomach will thank you!

The old man and the maples

The old man and the maples

Posting in High Dudgeon or How to Rant Gracefully

The precepts of Buddhism are on my mind.  I’m trying to be precise (aware) and gentle and graceful in this blog, but today, what I’m aware of is anger.  And this is very uncomfortable for me because I’ve built up quite a habit of avoiding anger at all costs.  I don’t like to find it in others, and I don’t like to find it in myself.  However, it’s a very important part of being human.  So, how do I face it gracefully?

Steve has some cassette tapes of Thich Nhat Hahn giving talks on relationships.  He speaks (or whispers, practically) about how to confront your loved one by opening with, “Darling, I suffer…” 

So, who is the loved one I want to confront?  Yahoo! news. 

Seriously, I am angered by a sense of false reporting that I feel every time I log on.  Important issues are sparsely represented.  Celebrity activity is ubiquitous.  The site reeks of phoniness, of Lifestyle but very little Life.  So, in my state of indignation, I wrote a kind of rant.  I will post it here with the graceful prefix:

Darling Yahoo!, I suffer. Unemployment isn’t news.  Celebrity divorces aren’t news.  Pet tricks aren’t news. Death isn’t news.  Where is the joyful message of Life?  The new moon, the new day, the new leaf, the new mutation, the new energy, the new decomposition, the new layer of sediment, the new moment, the NOW that has never been before and will be over immediately so that the next NOW can appear?  The earth, the stars, the Universe is moving and changing, and you’re afraid to report it.  The one thing we’re not making up, inventing for our own fascinated misery, gets shushed and shunted because certain people don’t want to hear.  What makes them so certain?  Their belief freezes everything real, stops it  mid-drip, or so they think.  Nonsense.  Wake up!  Get your mind out of those delusions.  You can make observations; you can’t make certain.  Bring me observations of the Universe, dear Yahoo!, and less of the machinations of man. 

That is all.