About six weeks ago, I cancelled my gym membership. I figured working on a farm would be exercise enough (and it would be, too, if I could just restrain myself when confronted with all the wonderful pies and biscuits around here!).
Anyway, my gym's name was "equinox" and I never really thought about that until this morning, as today is the autumnal equinox. What the gym was trying to evoke, I suppose, is the notion of balance, and of nature and health. And that's all good.
But I'm glad that I'm here at the farm to mark this equinox, rather than training on a treadmill and watching the closed captioning of cable news. As many of you know, I've been a bit of a news addict in the last decade, since the debacle of the 2000 election...and my intense news monitoring only intensified during this last year's presidential debates and election. I was spending hours each day tracking what all the talking heads were saying, what all the pundits were pontificating, and what all the analysts were predicting. Now, there are some good signals out there in that sea of noise--I especially enjoyed Rachel Maddow, Nate Silver's website, fivethirtyeight.com, and the news and analysis of Josh Marshall's website TalkingPointsMemo.com. But most of it was just endless chatter, that special "inside the beltway" idiocy that comes from focusing only on the perceived "optics" and politics of any particular moment, and the mindless repeating of whatever someone said somewhere...it occurs to me that much of the newsmedia is actually a lot like a treadmill, with the floor going around and around, and the appearance of movement, but for all that work, you don't actually get anywhere...
Now, thinking back on my incessant observation of the newsmedia, I suppose that I was driven by the idea that somehow I could make a difference by worrying the world...that if I just followed closely enough and paid enough attention, that I could shift the course of the river...
But after the election, I realized that I couldn't continue to be caught up in those soul-sucking spirals of negative energy. Moving to the farm gave me a great opportunity to start some new patterns. First, there's no TV here. And I'm actually not in front of a computer for more than a couple hours a week, though I read updates from blogs and headlines, and follow the stories that matter to me, on my iphone each day. I have to watch myself...I do still want to follow along with what's happening, policy-wise, and i do want to make sure that I can be a source of information for others. But I don't want to get caught up in the silliness...and I'll tell you, being without a TV and away from the computer these last six weeks has been wonderful. I'd prescribe that course of treatment for our whole culture, if i could!
So, for this equinox, I'm finding a new kind of balance. Instead of worrying the world, I'm working it, cultivating it. Instead of being driven by anxiety, I'm recognizing abundance.
One of the sisters here at the convent has noted, a couple times in conversation, that the Bible says we should "turn away from evil, and do good." Not fight it. Not focus on it. But turn away from it, and do good. I haven't talked much about what's been emerging for me, spiritually, these last months, and, frankly, I don't know how to yet. I'm trusting that the words will come, in time. But for now, I can say that the image of "turning away" resonates with me. Instead of worrying the world, being attached to the negative, I'm turning away, and focusing instead on life and light.