The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by Carole Howard

I’ve been thinking longingly about a sailing trip we once took with friends in the Caribbean. It was a certain version of heaven. A catamaran (to minimize seasickness), with a crew (we don’t know how to sail a boat) and good company. Blue sky, gentle waves, cooling breezes, white sand. There was little to interrupt our tranquility.   And there were pina coladas to boot!

My current longing has nothing to do with the climate, the boat, the rum, or even the friends. It was, rather, that once we left the dock, putt-putted out of the harbor, cut the motor and raised the sails, we were completely out of touch with the mainland. There were no cell phones. No internet. The captain could call ashore if necessary, but that was pretty much reserved for emergencies. We had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world.   Aaaaah. Right around now that sounds pretty good.

Every time I open the computer to my home page, The New York Times, or listen to the radio in the car, or even look at Facebook to keep up with the adorable antics of my grandchildren, I’m laid low with any one, or more, of an assortment of unpleasant emotions. Fear. Dismay. Anger. A sense of powerlessness. Depression.

There’s the situation in Aleppo – not to mention the rest of Syria – and the ones in Yemen, South Sudan, and elsewhere. If you don’t know what’s going on in those places, I envy you, but a lot of it involves children who are dead, injured, or starving.  And massacres. It’s more than I can bear.

And then, of course, there’s the election.   (If you’ve read any of my blogs, you’re not surprised I feel this way.) Chasms where once there were “only” cracks. Our current national fracture has even wended its way to my town, a beautiful historic community with an agricultural tradition where citizens have always gotten along pretty well. Since the election, there have been two incidents that, in the context of this town, were shocking. One was the defacing of a Jewish cemetery, and the other an explosive, almost violent, public meeting about a blue line down one of our streets to demonstrate appreciation for our local police department. Things like this just don’t happen here! But now they do.

And so I’ve been thinking about the sailboat interlude and considering cutting myself off from the news, including Facebook. It feels drastic – and, frankly, I don’t know if I could actually do it – but it would just be temporary, to allow my emotional immune systems to regroup. On the boat, I had no choice, but to self-isolate is a different matter.

I’ve been more-or-less of an activist since the 1960’s, and it would feel eerie to be unmoored from the rest of the world’s events. The deep blue sea. But it feels worse to mourn for my country and the world. The devil.

I’m not advocating giving up. I’m glad others are out there fighting the good fight. This would only be a sabbatical. But I’m not sure it’s a responsible thing to do.

Advice, please?

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Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, a musical murder mystery set in Senegal.

 

14 Comments

Filed under musings, Travel, writing

14 responses to “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by Carole Howard

  1. Of course it’s responsible. No one can carry the weight of all that sadness. Take care of yourself. Be kind to people you meet. Love who you can. All that adds to the aggregate light in world. And if/when you feel like getting involved again, you will be stronger.

  2. Carol, I agree with Pat. Sometimes it’s best to unplug and take care of one’s self. I found that out the hard way when I let too much stress cause me to have a stroke a few years ago. We cannot control others, but we can ourselves. I try to be the kind of person who helps rather than harms. Relax and enjoy the holidays.

  3. Marilyn

    Thank you for this. My daughter is doing some workshops for others on self care as the key to effective resistence. We need the inner strength all that wind and sea and beauty gave you. Hard to find in the day to day but I am with you. Also we need that resilience to outlive this US mess which I intend to do.

  4. Thanks, Sheila. In all honesty, I do feel some rage mixed in there with the angst and depression, but rage takes so much energy. Maybe taking a break will help ……

  5. Gini

    I hate to use a cliche, but you know the one about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first if the plane’s going down? This is like that. Rest from the news and, if possible, the worry, sounds highly responsible to me. This is a good time to notice the intricate details of winter trees. . .or children’s toes. For instance. Food, friends, and blue sea wherever you can find it.

    • NOT a cliche. So helpful and applicable. Noticing the intricate details of of winter trees or children’s toes is a poetic way to put it and I’m sure gonna try. Thanks, Gini.

  6. Advice? You don’t revisit – the same idyll will always disappoint. Such are memories that they lend a shine to reality. They deceive – they aren’t true. Such are news reports, outbursts of ‘learned opinion’ and cries of disaster: they are never the same after we have heard them, in differeent disguises, so many times. But it is the job of the Armaggedon industry to make each succeeding episode more violent, more divisive, more disastrous than its predecessor. Twenty-four hour news is an industry devoted to its cause, but we don’t have to listen, and we don’t have to be out at sea to switch off!

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