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Avoiding Negativity in Troubled Times

Andrea Cagan - Monday, June 04, 2018
Avoiding Negativity in Troubled Times

When I think back over six decades, there have been plenty of troubled times. There was Viet Nam, the draft, Watergate, and assassinations of beloved political and religious leaders. There was and still is poverty, violence, child abuse, torture, and people fleeing their homes and their countries to win their freedom,. The list goes on and on, but our current situation of having a President who doesn't read, has a face for radio, and pardons criminals who are guilty as sin, is unprecedented.

Almost every day, Agent Orange (I can't bear to say or write his name) takes away anything that is good, healthy and smart. And the media are so obsessed with this clown that they talk about little else. Our hopes and dreams that he will somehow go away are dashed on a daily basis. So how do we cope?

I was previously a liberal news junkie. I always had MSNBC or CNN airing in the background when I was home. For years, I watched the pundits expound upon the bad news of the day, but after the 2016 election, every day was a bad news day. The feeling that nothing would ever be right again, that our country was headed for ruination was so pervasive, I was upset every night before I went to sleep. I'd wake up in a funk, my stomach was upset most of the time . . . until I made an important decision.

I turned off MSNBC and CNN and turned on the Olympic channel. Instead of watching ugly politicians with distorted faces yelling at each other, I watched gymnasts, figure skaters and track and field competitors going for personal bests and vying for gold medals. I began to wake up with a positive attitude and the strength and courage to keep on going, no matter the circumstances. Granted, the sports world has it own set of problems like pedophile doctors, doping, and accidents that stop an athlete in his or her tracks. But most of the time, I am buoyed by watching otherwise ordinary people break impossible records and support their teammates with whom they are competitors. My sense of rightness has returned. I scan the newspaper and the Internet headlines so I’ll know if the country is going up in flames or is under nuclear attack. But I remain largely disengaged.

Watching athletes perform is familiar to me. I grew up in a ballet studio where we were was insulated as we strove for excellence. Today, I work out in an elite gymnastics gym and I watch the girls fly through the air while I lift weights, stretch out my body, and improve my balance.

I’ve noticed that many of my friends who are addicted and riveted to the news are expressing a negative attitude toward life. I understand. We never expected to see such a destructive and foolish person leading our country.

But that makes distraction all the more important to help us rise above depression and find solace in excellence and creativity. Watching athletes is particular to me since it’s such a large part of my history. It may not work for you but you can find your own Nirvana and spend as much time there as possible. As time goes forward, I tell myself, “This too shall pass,” as I watch speed skaters fly around a track. What do you do to survive these troubled times?

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