Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Friend and Her News Blackout: Or, One Woman Can Be an Island--A Guest Post

Bucolic Bainbridge Island, Washington State, where people go to impose news blackouts on themselves and eat organic food and get lots of exercise. A ferry ride from Seattle, it is, as they say, a world away.

My friend since kindergarden at Loyola School in Los Altos, California, Lisa Gutt Arnold now lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, working in Seattle at a foundation.  When she faced family illnesses, the loss of her brother-in-law and various other personal challenges, she decided to take at least one stress out of her life--she imposed a news blackout on herself.  Needless to say, her friend Robin, the news junkie, was horrified! News is mother's milk to Robin. (A Lady Macbeth mother, but nevertheless.) Not able to stir Lisa from her firm resolve to enjoy her life sans news, I asked her to write a guest piece for Robin Chapman News, about what it was like. Here is her offering:

My News Blackout
Lisa Gutt Arnold
"Once or twice a week Robin expresses an irresistible urge to share a news flash with me, full knowing that I am on a self-imposed news embargo. Not only is she playing devil’s advocate here, but I suspect that for her life without news is not life at all; rather it is the universe before creation.
Her teaser email typically poses a question like 'Have you heard about the tsunami in Japan?'
Of course I’ve heard about the tsunami, just as I’ve heard about Prince William and his bride. Living on planet earth precludes complete ignorance of cataclysms and pop culture. What I haven’t heard, or to put it more clearly, haven’t followed, is the ripple effect.
Blacking out the news since groundhog day, I am beginning to perceive the leap of consciousness one takes without an hourly bulletin. It shares similarities with nudity, which sharpens our sense of how we are made. News, so-called, becomes less like news and more like a consequence of fact meeting fiction with fiction winning out.
News is simply a filter that directs our thoughts the way glasses direct our gaze. Without its direction we find our own. Bereft of the common view, we adjust and acclimate to a more personal truth. In the immediacy of our surroundings our creativity arises, colored by our imaginations and by all we have entrusted to memory.
A moment suffices to overcome a headline; our font grows to the size and shape of a peony. What is newsworthy becomes the first fragrance of the day. Unexpectedly we remember that millennia before ours shape the moment we are in."

Lisa Gutt Arnold
Bainbridge Island, Washington

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