Taffy was addicted. A 24/7 news cycle kept her informed of all the horrors of daily life. She thought being informed and ready—just in case disaster struck close to home—was the way to go. She always got a kick out of the college students who couldn’t identify a photo of the Vice President. She didn’t want to be ignorant like them. She knew every candidate who would, could, or might run for President. She knew every political gaffe and every conspiracy theory. She thought it gave her the ability to hold intelligent conversations with her friends. Even though they found the news depressing. Sometimes they disagreed and got into a fight.
Then there was the barrage of pharmaceutical commercials. While disturbing and often unclear as to what the ailment was, she was so grateful to be informed. She had a whole list of things wrong with her. She didn’t even realize it until she saw the commercial for the cure. She had to ask her doctor, to see if the drugs “were right for her,” as the commercials advised. Taffy was actually afraid to find out.
She had mountains of survival food that wouldn’t spoil for 30 years. She had triple padlocked doors and bars on her windows. She lived in a state of fear for all that had not happened, but might…
One morning she sat down with her morning coffee and punched the remote for the news. Nothing happened. The screen was blank, except for a faint, bluish light. It illuminated the ghostly logo of the news channel burned into the screen. Nada. Zip. She was sure it was a terrorist attack. She sat—feeling she had prepared for this moment—yet she had no idea what to do.
As she sipped her coffee in silence, she listened for explosions or the sound of choppers flying overhead. She knew some indication of mayhem would soon reveal itself. Crickets. The silence was eerie in what it didn’t say. She could hear the power was still on; that was good. She wouldn’t have to figure out how to use the generator she’d bought for just such an occasion. She wanted to know what was going on, but she was afraid to leave home. Marauding bands of intruders might try to steal her provisions.
The not knowing and silence became unbearable. Did the world end? Did some terrorist organization commandeer a fleet of drones? Maybe they dropped a hi-tech “Forever Coma Bomb” on every major city in the world? Was the world gone? Taffy started to cry at the horror of it all. Thoughts rushed through her mind, each more terrifying than the previous one. The world has ended.
The sound of the children’s laughter derailed her train of thought. Taffy listened in indignant amazement. A dog barked playfully. The rumble and squeak of child-sized vehicles filled the silence as they drove up and down her driveway. All the sounds competing. Barking, laughter, rumble and squeak. Totally inappropriate sounds. Taffy was in shock. How can they play when the world has ended? Suddenly, nothing made sense.
The television sparked to life, and Taffy’s attention was drawn to the image of a beautiful blonde woman. Somehow she managed to smile while talking in a hushed voice of phony concern. A flood had swept away 28 very expensive homes in another state. The good news was that there were no fatalities. Then she introduced an expert to discuss what it would be like to suffer death by flood. Such a myriad of ways it could happen, all dreadful.
Taffy wasn’t interested. She wanted to understand what had just happened to her. Nothing, she concluded had just happened. She could not stop a flood or a Forever Coma Bomb dropped by a drone. A website for donating to the flood victims popped up on the screen. She wrote it down to send a donation and turned off the TV.
Taffy sat in her epiphany. She saw with crystal clarity how she had been sucked into the misery of events she had no control over. The fear of what might happen, but usually doesn’t. Every day, 24/7. As each fear gets old, it’s replaced by a new one. It had made her feel a part of something bigger than herself, and at the same time…isolated. The Pleasure Police were always on duty. And all to sell anti-depressants. It had robbed her of her love for life. Her life—and she wanted it back. One day they might get it right…but in all the years she’d watched, they hadn’t yet.
Sounds of pure glee penetrated her walls. She wanted to feel the children’s innocence and imagination—their love for life. That love of life was all that mattered. Love. She didn’t have to prepare for love. It required no special shoes. It was always there—she just needed to be open to it. She pondered how she had gotten to this point. She had been blinded by fear. A fear that was never finished scaring her. It was all an illusion that had no benefit other than to make money for the news channels. Ads for products to help with the cure of ailments. Ailments mostly brought on by being consumed with fear.
So there she sat. Everything was exactly as it had been when she got up that morning. Nothing had changed, except that her coffee was now cold. Yet her entire world had changed. She heard the birds outside for the first time. She felt compassion for what she had gotten herself into. So subliminally being lulled into thinking she was doing the right thing. How many others like her were there? As the feeling spread through her, she felt a rightness—a truth in her realization. She thought, What if everyone could feel this way, all the time? What if we could love life—and ourselves—as is, instead of lopsided with fear? We’d have compassion and love for one another, finding joy in our differences. Together we’d make the game of life a fearless playground! There would be no need for 24/7 news. There would be so little anyone wanted to buy.
Ha! Fat chance. A wholly, unrealistic thought. So instead she decided she would just practice it in her world. She’d continue to have compassion for all the nasty things that happen. That is the duality of life. But she’d also see the gifts, beauty and magnificence that can come of all that happens. She would love life like never before. Maybe just watch the news once every two weeks, for an hour? She dumped out the rest of her coffee and headed for the beach.