“The brains of humans contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news.”
— Daniel Kahneman, 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
“Bad news travels fast, good news takes the scenic route.”
— Doug Larson, Green Bay Press, Columnist/Editor (1926-2017)
While it was still dark Sam left to go fishing. A few hours later I was up and making my way to the coffee pot when I noticed five deer foraging under the oak tree outside the sunroom windows. Acorns were falling like crazy and often pinging off the metal roof. With coffee in hand, I moved slowly to the windows. One deer or another would raise its head and stare then return to nibbling acorns. I determined to stay so they would become accustomed to my watching. I also wanted to see if they would eat my pansies. They never did. I attributed their avoidance to the marigolds planted next to the pansies. The deer moseyed off while I sipped coffee and read a friend’s text message. This is what it said:
“As you know I don’t watch local or National news. Well, I decided to watch Nora on CBS the other night to catch up! I learned there was a school shooting in Saint Louis, I learned that COVID is bad in Europe which means it will happen here in the near future and Putin is playing with nuclear bomb ideas thus we have our largest fighter ship stationed in the Caribbean just in case. It ain’t good.”
I thought of my friend going to bed that night with a heavy heart and waking the next morning with more of the same. The start of our mornings had been so different. Wilhelmina rubbed her head on my slippers, jumped in my lap and over to the side table insisting on a head rub before sucking on my hand and curling up for a morning catnap. I composed a reply to my friend. It went something like this:
There’s much good in the world but you won’t find it in most news sources. News media is designed to keep your attention to sell advertising. The human psyche gravitates to bad news like a car wreck. It’s detrimental to the mind and soul because we can not carry the load of the entire world. Technology arrives in our homes and on our cellphones 24/7. We carry it with us everywhere. Years ago, I realized I could not handle the load. My news comes from reading where I can pick and choose what I want to read, maybe the headlines, a caption, a cartoon, no disturbing graphics. There’s always the radio. I assure you if something bad happens people will tell you.
If you feel disturbed embracing nature is a great healer as are many good books, podcasts, websites, walks, time with friends and family. Millions of people do great things every minute of every day yet most won’t make the digital news. Those people are likely found in local newspapers: a child’s lemonade stand, a neighbor cleaning the street, a food bank, library book sales, new industries, art centers, concerts, holiday open house, festivals, stores opening, new restaurants, who’s selling what. It’s all good.
My favorite quote ever is from Max Ehrmann: With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly in the Prairie. Email reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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