I start off my day on a pretty steady note every day. We wake up, and while Caleb is getting ready for his day, I come downstairs, make coffee, and fire up my laptop. I hit the refresh button to download podcasts, and proceed with the morning. After saying good-day to Caleb, I pop my earbuds in, and fire off the daily new shows I have to listen to. One of these shows is “The Rachel Maddow” show. I have been listening to her for years now, and when I do, I generally have the same reaction.
The same goes for other shows I listen to. I get my news from NPR. I download shows that I’ve grown familiar with since I started listening to my news this way – and I do this for a variety of reasons. What each show adds to my day, though, tends to be familiar. In one way or another, each show, from those centered on farming, like “The Beginning Farmer Show,” to “OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook,” to “Rachel Maddow,” I am left with a weird feeling of emotion and thought that, at times, can be really overwhelming. I press pause, and take a breath, and actually reflect on what I was just presented with. Sometimes, these reactions last all day long. Sometimes, they inspire me to buy a book, to ask further questions, to seek out more information from a variety of sources. In short, they make me think.
It’s this reaction to thought, this process of being presented with a thing and having to process it, that truly gets my gears engaged for my day. Sure, I could be like millions of people all over the world, and get a short, palatable shot of news in thirty minutes by watching my local and national broadcasts as I did when I was younger. Or, I could simply shut myself off from all of the news and carry on in my life, doing the things that keep me busy on a day-to-day basis. I could remain removed from it all, or only accept what things are being presented to me in a narrow time frame or in a certain manner. But, I don’t do this. I don’t because I like to wallow around in the effect of the story. I like to let the thoughts that are evoked from the latest scandal in Washington, D.C., to the latest breakthroughs in science, to the questions posed by artists and musicians, simply exist with me for a while – and by “a while,” I mean as long as is necessary.
I think, perhaps, this is why we have always enjoyed getting our news in slow form. We, as a society, have reacted to written and spoken words for our news for centuries, if not for millennia, in a manner that suits the speed of our brains. Until recently, we were granted the time to digest and to form rational reactions to the events that unfold around us. It has only been in the last twenty years or so that news comes at us in such chunks and pieces that may not be the right way to either present the story (incomplete, glancing, not allowing for more depth and breadth to the story). We are spoon-fed or force-fed information in a manner not always congruous to how we think.
I like having a moment to reflect. I like having a chance to press pause, catch my breath, and let a thought simply linger a bit more in my mind. And I like to relish in my reaction. Why does one piece of news or information react a certain way in me? Why do I get emotional over this story but not that one? How does this piece affect my daily life? I don’t think this is possible without taking an active role in information gathering, and one has to be aware of what it is they are being told, and by whom, and for what purpose. One has to recognize when they are responding in a certain way to something being told to them or shown to them and try to figure out why.
For me, I really, really like the buzz I get from learning new things. I like the rush of emotion that comes when thoughts and reactions can lead me into being engaged and creative. I listen to the podcasts that I do because they get me off my chair and doing something. I may not agree with everything I hear. I may have a very different response to a news story. I may want to see how the event or thing or whatever it is plays out in my own community. Still, at the end of it all, it gives me shivers. It gives me a feeling of empowerment. I like this response to thought.