I’m not going to write about Donald Trump today. I know, he is out there telling everyone he won’t necessarily leave, even if he loses. Which may scare people into voting for him but is more likely to convince them that Joe Biden needs a landslide.
Stop. There I go again.
No news today.
Most mornings of my adult life, I have started my day by reading at least four daily newspapers and skimming some key websites, from Drudge to MSNBC, while I drink my first and second cups of coffee. When I taught at Harvard, I learned fast that you didn’t venture into the faculty lunchroom unless you’d read The New York Times by noon. When I worked in politics, you didn’t venture out of bed without reading The New York Times [and the Post and the Journal]. I’ve been writing a column forever, and that’s what I still do.
But reading the news before you get out of bed in the middle of this meltdown is a surefire recipe for not getting up, for being anxious and depressed, for feeling like you have no control over anything. For those of us who start out with a predilection for anxiety and depression, like me, the news is not good for our health.
So, this morning, I played with the dogs. I kept thinking there was something I needed to do. I couldn’t stop the headlines from pinging at me from my phone – maybe one news alert instead of the constant pinging – but I could stop myself from reading the stories.
And here is what I have learned.
I still have a stomachache. Of course, I’m still anxious. How could anyone not be anxious and at least a little depressed? I can close my eyes for a day or a week, but it will only mean the death toll is higher, higher than 200,000.
But there is so much more time in the day. So much more time to just stop the thinking and love my dogs. Molly is 15, and Irving is 13; I lost Judy last year at 16. So I play with my dogs, who can no longer run and jump like my daughter’s puppy Eloise [the weasel, for short] or my son’s 3-year-old Penny.
I can’t help thinking that my own days of running and jumping have also passed, that I am getting old with my dogs. But all the more reason to love them more, to be grateful for all these years together, to think about all the silly things, to live in the moment with them.
Some people may have learned all this in kindergarten, like the bestselling book claims, but I’ve learned everything I needed to know about life from my dogs.
We never had a dog when I was growing up because my mother said we would be too sad when the dog died. My mother was way more anxious and depressed than me. But when my children were seven and four, Hershey joined our life, and even my mother, who was scared of dogs, was never scared of Hershey.
I read somewhere that heaven is the place where you are reunited with all the dogs in your life.
Yesterday, I got one of those messages you hate to hear. “Call right away,” said one of my oldest and dearest friends. “I have news. It isn’t good.”
Her husband’s roommate – we all hung out in college – had a massive heart attack and died.
Sometimes I joke, but it’s not a joke, that there’s a sniper out there taking shots at a generation while we rush forward in life, reading the papers, eating the news – straight to the gut – trying to find our footing on a rocky terrain that only promises more of the same.
Did he smoke? Did he drink? Can we find a way to connect the dots so we can separate ourselves from tragic news? Not yesterday.
The news will be what it will be today. I can read about it tomorrow. In the meantime, there’s a butterfly about to emerge in the front yard; the dogs are quiet; and it’s time for lunch with my daughter. Be safe.