Resolution Leap

2002 was a palindrome year, reading the same backward as forward, in fact the year felt pretty much that way; the same backward as forward. It’s doubtful any of us will be around for the next palindrome occurrence, it won’t happen again till 2112.

So, with funny hats and noisemakers removed to the trash we must now get on with the new year. Resolutions are an important part of new beginnings; the new moon falling so near this New Year lends special emphasis.

I saw a headline the other day on a news website, “2003 Set To Be Warmest On Record.” Against my better judgment I read the story. Poor old El Niño was once again the culprit. It matters little that El Niño is a natural occurrence and has existed for eons, in the news business it’s a crisis and the electronic media knows full well that crisis sells. Curiously our fourth President James Madison once said, “Crisis is the cry of the tyrant.”

Several years ago I made a resolution not to watch TV news. That night on the evening news, the first five stories were comprised of poll results. The networks conduct the polls then report the results as news. I consider that manufacturing news. I stopped watching.

Today’s trend in TV news exudes dramatically synthetic theme music accompanied by lavish graphics and logos. Then, as if that weren’t enough, they cram dizzying and distracting volumes of information into the ‘lower third’; that congested bottom portion of your TV screen. The picture itself becomes little more than a postage stamp.

Another unsavory trend is to preconceive a story’s result before an interview is conducted. The reporter must then tongue lash the interviewee until sound bites, supporting that preconceived result, are extracted. Seems as though they’ve got it backward. News should not be preordained, but a discovery of truth. Next to ratings, the single most important thing about TV news is hair. The coif is king; Jack Aernecke is a definite rarity. My rule of thumb: nothing on TV is real.

Radio is slightly better. I occasionally catch the BBC. I like their simplicity, no news theme just a news broadcaster saying, “This is BBC news.” Chicago’s WGN still subscribes to this style, one of the few yet to succumb to the noise and clatter.

Back in the 60’s news themes became fashionable. I recall one night parked on a quiet country road with a lovely young lady. We had the radio on listening to WLS in Chicago, the rock and roll giant of the time. We were engaged in tender, intimate conversation when the news bulletin theme exploded from the radio. The sound was horrifying and nearly shook us out of our skin. I’ve never quite forgotten that ‘end of the world’ sound. I reached for the volume control knob. The bulletin the newsman related was, on this occasion, as earth shaking as the theme music intimated. Robert Kennedy had been shot.

These days the crisis alarm rarely lives up to the sound and fury, it’s more the boy who cried wolf. There’s too much hype over too little content; the trivial disguised as the invaluable. The news media briefly rose to Edward R. Morrow’s level of excellence on 9/11, but as quickly backslid to their previous behavior. So, until they remove the entertainer’s guise and resolve to seek out objective truth, I’ll remain happily resolved not to watch them. Resolutions are beneficial friends.

Resolutions signify spring cleaning to me. It’s cleaning out the closet or garage or basement or clearing off the desk. A friend at a New Year’s Day gathering mentioned he was a bit of a pack rat, papers and records going back years. He theorized it might be our attempt at immortality. He makes a valid point. But with the beginning of each New Year we have the golden opportunity to free ourselves of clutter and to refocus our untidy selves on those things that hold the most importance. January is a brittle month, a fine time to hunker down and focus on constructive change.

It is change that is at the core of our resolutions; change being life’s one constant. Once we identify and discard that which is unnecessary in our lives, we more clearly begin to see that which holds significance.

Find a pencil and paper and in one paragraph define your dream. What do you truly want from the living of your life? Then write one goal that will signal you’ve accomplished it. Next, list things, little things you could do every day, baby steps you could take that will lead toward your dream. It’s deceptively simple and more difficult than you think. It’s difficult to clearly define your dream, more difficult to commit to the task of taking daily steps in that direction, but it’s possible. “Leap and the net will appear,” my friend Julia Cameron says, and she’s right.

Life is change, bursting with magic and mystery, passion and hope. It’s your life; set the bar high, dare to dream and live. The heart is where abundance and joy reside, may life fill yours with both this New Year.

We’ll talk next time From The Road.

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