Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities,1859.

A friend, who’s in his 40s, commented at New Year’s that these are the darkest times he’s ever lived through. It’s true, things are awful in a lot of places; I wouldn’t want to be living in Afghanistan or Haiti right now. But the worst of times? You won’t find me yearning for “the good old days” –like the Sixties, when he was born and I came of age, when an inter-racial family such as his own would have been discriminated against by both races, there were still lynchings in the South, and African-Americans had to fight for the right to vote. When sexual harassment of women was the norm, abortions were done in back streets, and in Connecticut, where I lived in New Haven, birth control was illegal. An unmarried heterosexual couple would have had a hard time finding a place to rent, and gays…forget it (it’s important to remember that the reason gay marriage is an issue now is not because so many people are against it, but because so many are for it). Those were the days when my father’s problem with alcohol didn’t have a name, and life was lived through a haze of cigarette smoke. Not to speak of the fact that there was only one kind of lettuce and no one outside of Italy knew what a latte was.

Therefore my New Year’s resolution is, as it has been for the last several years, not to listen to or watch the news. I will read The New Yorker, as well as the headlines and anything I find interesting in the Times. I will remain informed, but I will not allow myself to be bombarded with every detail of every terrible thing that’s happening in the world this very minute. As far as I’m concerned, all of this is Mind Control in the form of negativity-training (not just Fox News but even—and maybe especially—your beloved NPR, whose lack of blatancy makes it even more insidious). I feel compassionate, but must I demonstrate it by being miserable?

So, while I appreciate the invitation, I will not be joining the culture of complaint. Instead I begin this year grateful for all I have to celebrate: I had a great month in California, a long-term legal hassle in my life has been resolved, my children are happy, I have a new baby grandson, the sun is out, and I’m on fire in the studio as never before. Welcome 2011!

Carol Diehl, Drawing 1/6/11, pastel on paper, 9 1/2" x 12 1/2"


Barbara said...

As you often do, you have articulated my feelings about the world today...thanks!

Anonymous said...

Cheers Carol! I haven't watched or read the news in years, and couldn't be happier for it. I equate it to mind pollution; it's all run-off from the corporate gutter. For those who say these are the darkest times, turn off your tv/internet and look at the beauty in front you, or better yet, venture beyond the West to visit true despair. (And btw that's a lovely drawing!)

Carol Diehl said...

Thanks! I love the way you put it..."run-off from the corporate gutter." Exactly!

Rob said...

You are absolutely right. In all of human history, very few have lived in such luxury, comfort, and safety as we do today. Things could get a whole lot worse. I think it is only tremendous abundance that we have that allows us to complain about or focus on relative minutia. As proof, look at the "news" highlighted on HuffPo site. As further proof, how else could people spend so much time discussing where Obama was born or whether Sarah Palin's daughter danced well enough to be a finalist on Dancing with the Stars.

Carol Diehl said...

Quite so! It is our prosperity that affords us the luxury of dissatisfaction.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Happy New Year

this bubble wrap generation, I tell ya! : )

Thank you for sharing. I love your pastel drawing

Anonymous said...

Right on Carol! Said with much more grace and eloquence than I ever could. So glad you're starting off the year creatively inspired.