Tom and Jerry racing around to whatever string of music most wildly matched to the cat and mouse chase. Cue in on the high strungiest of notes–the one where shrill whistley noises meet glass breaking pitch. It makes sense held for a few seconds. Then it releases.
And the mouse gets away or something like that.
Imagine though that the ear-rattling, shattering noise didn’t stop? Your heart can only race for so long. No one would be so interested in the chase if it were ongoingly high strung.
But this is the closest metaphor I can find for myself when I turn on the TV, browse social media sites, and even when I am talking to friends and family.
I know growing up the etiquette is to avoid talking about religion, politics and sex….and salary too. But at times, way too high of a percentage too, I feel like that’s all people talk about.
When I was working, I heard way too much talk about sex and all things related. My coworkers would tell you how many times I picked up phrases that shouldn’t be repeated, and how many equal times they took turns informing me of the double and triple meanings.
And if it wasn’t sex talk, it was relatedly inappropriate, like discussing lactation, random pregnancy symptoms, and a whole lot more. What’s funny is that I didn’t even get half those conversations until they were over. And yes, my coworkers prided themselves on backtracking the details and explaining.
Among family the conversations always seem to be on the cusp of some political upheaval or eruption. I’m already quite ok with not engaging in conflict so any visible evidence of volatility I see is avoided just like I’d avoid a snake’s nest or beehive. I am not interested in emotional pitching and squalling.
Religion-wise, I guess I went through a lot of that in college and before among my Christian friends from all denominations and backgrounds. But that one was easy. After a friend launched into the “salvation message” after learning I read the NIV, I dismissed every extreme opinion (as determined by how different from me it was) instantaneously as momentary insanity that I’d pray X person to be released from at some point.
And I have a friend who sort of epitomizes what I can’t stand in today’s overflow of ever-constant grandstanding individuals. What is it? Well my dad actually calls her Hurricane, because her life, like her name, Katrina, is truly full of constant surging, disaster, lack of money and preparation for, well, even a sprinkle.
But no worries, she knows my dad calls her that and she embraces it. She nearly, almost likes it. It’s not just her life though, it’s her words. But at least she knows what her opinion is. The thing is, how can anyone know or make an opinion in all the noise?
The thing is like my friend “Hurricane,” the Tasmanian Devil, or a solar flare (I’m in to Amazon’s Universe series right now…) today’s running conversations are way to high strung, too volatile, emotional, and almost always, (what bugs me the most) unbalanced. And maybe people are in the same boat as me…
What I know is that I don’t need a news station to report that it’s the only fair and balanced source for news. I’ll see what it is. I don’t need someone to educate me on the liberal slant that NPR takes. I can feel it when I turn it on.
But what’s getting me is that in a world of growing “friends,” “connections,” and “followers,” I’m feeling more and more isolated and cramped in by the flurry of volcanic commotion going on around me online. And when the face-to-face and over-the-phone conversations move in the same direction, it feels like you have no where to go.
I don’t want to be one of those people who only bounces ideas off on my husband, but the inner revulsion to dramatic, word-flingery and high pitched squalling over hot button issues will eventually drive me crazy! And what’s worse, in all of the noise if I can’t figure out and find the time and space I need to digest what I hear, I am so well positive that others can’t either.
And so on and on it goes. People cling to their cause, heave and hoist every fiber of energy and focus to their belief, conviction, etc., and flail arms and legs to berate anyone who has something to say. Albeit my portrayal of what’s happening might be a bit exaggerated, I wonder if I unplugged from the news for a few weeks if my mind could rest and relax long enough to listen, to critically engage and to find and put forward my own original thoughts.
In times like this we need Emerson and Thoreau. And maybe my answer is to just dig in to some of the Transcendentalists and linger for a while in Nature or pick up Life in the Woods (Walden).
After all, if I’m going to quiet down those voices that are trying to drown everything else out and get introduced to my brain again, I might as well do so with some of my best friends.