Saturday, December 4, 2010

Skipping The Front Page

Skipping The Front Page

I just need a week or so. Perhaps even a few days will do. Just a clutch of sweet hours without any front page news. Time to clear my cluttered head. Time to delight in the simple folderol and frippery of the holidays. Just some time to sit in front of the fire and follow the shadows of the Christmas tree lights as they dance along the ceiling. A moment to lavishly wrap a present, an afternoon to forage for woodland greenery on a cold walk with Edward underneath the tall trees. Just an hour or so to think about chocolate, to read about Scrooge, or to hum a noel.

An old friend wrote me an email the other night. He was apoplectic over the financial disaster in Ireland. I could tell this from his words as well as from the late hour in which the letter was sent. He was wide awake and fretting. I understand that feeling well. This summer’s tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico gave me more than a few nights like that, and frankly, it still does. There is so much today that is worthy of worry, from Polar Bears to currency, one would have to live underground not to notice.

I try to do what I can, to be responsible for my little corner of the Earth in every way possible but sometimes, just sometimes, I have to unplug from the news of the world. And I do. I take time out for myself, for just a few days, to only watch the oldest movies on television, preferably ones shot in black and white.

To only read words that nourish my soul and embroider my imagination.

To only listen to Christmas music.

To skip past the front page of the Times in the morning and head straight to the Arts section with a smile on my face.

I am feeling this way at the moment.

Mind you, I won’t stay in this blissfully vacant spot for too long, but sometimes I find it essential for beating back those incapacitating feelings of despair. Otherwise I begin to feel as if I have to hold up the sky and, knowing my limitations, I crumble.

There is more than enough reason to hope, I know, and when I emerge from my contented exile I seem to see that much more clearly. Why, just last week, The Songwriter and I entertained a young artist at our dinner table. A beautiful girl, with an enchanting voice, she is poised for a stellar career. I was heartened beyond measure to hear her speak of wanting to use her life to help bring about change in a positive way. She spoke of so many problems worthy of her attention, so much need in the world. We talked of the importance of focusing on one or two issues that speak to her heart, lest the magnitude of concern overwhelm her. She had recently performed at a large benefit to help those who work to stop the dreadful problem of human trafficking, and she thought perhaps that was an issue on which she would devote her considerable energy. So young, such talent, such passion. Reason for us all to hope and be glad.

Then, on the far other end of the spectrum of years, I was leaving the neighbourhood yesterday and passed by the house of an elderly friend. She’s rather circumspect about her age, but she has to be well over ninety, so I was astonished to see that she had a crew of men in her front garden, planting an oak tree sapling.

I couldn’t find words to wrap up my feelings about this.

Think about that.

At her age.

A baby oak tree.

God Rest Us All Merry,

Let Nothing We Dismay.

I just might read the front page tomorrow.


  1. Oh, I bury my head quite a lot Pamela. I obviously keep abreast of what is going on in the world but like you, sometimes the news is full of sadness and a bit of frivolity never hurt fact, it does us good.
    ....and, talking of old films, I saw a not so old one but Hugh Grant was in it and looked so young. It was called 'Maurice' and was really good. It had so many famous faces in it too. You've probably seen it but it was one that must have passed me by .
    Enjoy your Christmas preparations Pamela and getting back to the many facets, good and bad, of the real world. XXXX

  2. Your words resonated deeply with me. I, too, sometimes feel I need to hold up the sky, but cannot. And I fall...

    However, I am still learning that I cannot be everything to everyone, and that the comics may be the only page I read in the newspaper that day.

    I love your blog. Everytime I visit here, I feel as if I can relate in many ways.

    Wishing you a joyful day!

  3. Down time, your time, gentle time! We all need to stock up our reservoirs occasionally and coming up to Christmas couldn't be a better time.
    I hope you have a lovely few days filled with beauty, laughter and relaxation God bless you. x J

  4. Leave the front page for a little yet. It and its associated problems will not run away, by reading it you will change nothing apart from your mood, so enjoy the Christmas spirit for a while longer.

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    I hardly think you will be able to change anything the front page throws at you at the moment Pamela, so enjoy making cookies for a while longer.

  5. Sometimes we need a break from the harsh realities of, 'the front page'...It doesn't make the truth go away nor does it mean we are blissfully unaware...but it is more a moment to right ourselves and strengthen our stance.

    Your sweet neighbour planting a baby oak for posterity....she is the definition of generosity and selflessness....Lovely as ever Pamela, xv.

  6. what a lovely post, I think with the news its all about finding balance, there are a lot more positive things happening out there than the mainstream media let us think.... A lot of newspapers just focus on the scandals and the bad news, for some reason that sells papers!

    I love the story of your elderly friend who was having the oak tree planted, how wonderful! I hope your young friend has a wonderful career!

  7. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this poignant blog. You see, today I awoke and was feeling so low, my poor husband is at a loss to speak the words that will help. After pouring out my reasons for this dumpsy feelings I now feel able to cope again.
    Your blog says it all, exactly how I feel about the world and new etc;
    I am so glad I found your wonderful uplifting blog and look forward to reading it each day. No pressure. lol
    This proves that blogs are not such a waste of time as some people think doesn't it?

  8. Surrounding ourselves with friendly people with their sweet motives and actions certainly helps.Such lovely stories about your friend and neighbour. I think we must continue constantly to nourish our spirit, and yes very much encompass the true Christmas spirit at this time of year.
    I too,find it necessary to skip the front page sometimes.
    "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face" is a quote that I think, while most of us don't need psychiatric intervention to deal with wordly challenges, definitely rings true.

  9. What a beautiful post! Message! It brought joy to my heart and a tear to my eye.

  10. I always enjoy reading your post, you are an eloquent writer. The thought of your elderly neighbor planting an Oak tree brought a tear to my eye. There is a strong message in that story, thank you for sharing.

    Happy Holidays.

  11. I take news breaks all the time. I discovered that nothing changes whatsoever in my life, when I don't know what's happening in the world.

  12. Dear Pamela, I do understand what you mean about the need to escape from the troubles of the world on occasion in order to refocus and draw breath before entering the foray once more. I find it remarkably therapeutic to live for much of my time as a foreigner in another country since one is then always slightly if not completely disengaged from the general way of things. And, I do find that energising!!!

    When in need of escapism on film, I find nothing works better for me than good old Merchant Ivory. The Europeans was my latest viewing.

  13. A society grows great when old men plant trees
    whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
    Greek Proverb

    old women, too! A little quote to give you hope, Pamela.

    Charles has planted 52 curly willows in the last two years....he has a passion for trees...

  14. I think we all feel like that sometimes I know I do. I think we all need a time of rest and solace to rewind.
    I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  15. Those are beautiful real-life examples of hopefulness that keeps on carrying on.

    I think that we all feel this way at times . . . and sometimes those "times" are great big chunks of Time. This snowfall that the UK is having provides a respite of sorts. There is nothing to do but talk/marvel (and even moan, a bit) about the weather.

  16. I get so sad over the news and the human condition. Some of the things some people children...I sometimes simply cannot bear it. I retreat to old movies as welll...the simple times. A fast food restaruant recently opened up the street from us. Now I see litter dropped out of cars and it irks me something fierce. The gov spends millions on figuring out about obestity...I can spell it out in one word that begins with an M...oh welll Pamela. we try to create beauty in our own little world...

  17. Your post resonated with my today, Pamela. I have been feeling that whole world in my hands feeling of late as well and just felt a need to tune out and be for awhile.

    What a wonderful woman your neighbor must be to have that sense of leaving to the future generations by planting a tree. A generous soul and role model.

    Peace to you, Pamela, and your readers as well.

  18. I see your neighbor's act of tree planting as not only her hope for the future but hope for all of us. It is so wonderful that she is keeping her spirit alive and sharing it with us. Thanks you again for a wonderful blog entry.

  19. What a wonderful discovery your blog is!

    When I started blogging myself I made a pact
    to not post about anything that did not amuse,inspire etc.
    and to never write critical comments to fellow bloggers after all no one is forcing me to read so....
    my point echoing most that have written...let us all look for the good and inspirational...skipping to the arts section is good for the soul!

  20. How wel put! I too take a break- it does become overwhelming. I too retreat to the old movies as I have always felt there was a standard of living back in the day that is gone now.
    Wow, planting an oak tree at her age, she's definitely keeping her spirit alive in the world for a long time! What a sweet thought!
    Thanks for your inspiring thoughts as always!

  21. Pamela, I completely agree. Especially at this time of year. I want snow globes and sugar plums not murder and mayhem! Beautiful post. You have such a wonderful gift with words. I love your choice of artwork as well.


  22. What lovely examples of hope and goodwill! As you say, it is so important to keep focus and not to become overwhelmed. We can all make a difference.

  23. Dearest Pamela, reading your blog gives me hope! Thank you for all those many thoughtful posts over the month I have been reading your blog. It so resonates with me and I feel a kindred spirit. I often wish I could write like you to express how I feel about the world.
    Well, I think you speak it out for me and so many others! This is wonderful. You have a wonderful gift!
    I as well take time out occasionally, no news, no TV, just my world and our family. I am not ignorant of things going on in the world, but I am aware that I need to keep things level at home to make it a peaceful one.

    Happy Christmas time to you and the songwriter!

  24. Beautiful hope. The young oak and the wise old woman.

    Personally I find the best use of the paper, moistened and layed down on the dirt under mulch. Unopened, of course. Really keeps those weeds at bay.


  25. I'm afraid that I have stopped reading the newspapers and watching TV news. I do what I can to help the Earth and the creatures who share her with us and otherwise sail on in my own little world. We need people who are passionate about trying to change things and who will fight for a cause they believe in but I know that I am not the stuff of which activists are made. I'm the old lady planting a tree rather than the young woman going out and really trying to make a difference. Enjoy your time out.

  26. I know that feeling well, I love to listen to the BBC Radio 4 but there are days when I can't take in any more reality so listen to music instead. We all need to retreat from time to time.

    To plant a tree shows a belief in the future, and in the case of your old lady, a wisdom also perhaps.

  27. I am so like you Pamela as I too need 'spells' of no-news. My husband watches 24 hour news a lot and I can't stand it. I too emerge from these periods without news feeling refreshed.
    I like the idea of everyone focussing on perhaps one or two areas, like your young friend,to try and change the world for the better, wouldn't it be great if we all did this, whatever our age?

  28. Love your blog. I just started one about my old historic home. I sure wish you would drop by and see it. Thanks, Richard.

  29. I have come to really dislike having 24hour news on the radio and tv...constantly bombarding us with anger and fear and sadness. I do my best for my little part of the world too and when I watch the news it is often on the Comedy Channel with Jon Stewart...I greatly appreciate what you have to say here Pamela...


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