More Music, Less Politics.

Here it is beyond mid-March, and my New Year’s resolution seems to be holding: More Music, Less Politics.

It has to do with my desire for inner peace, really. I had found upon several occasions over the past few years that I was in a different state at the end of days when I had the radio tuned to classical music rather than any of my favorite political talk or news shows.

Politics, the state of our economy, the country’s divisiveness and polarization exacerbated by the 9/11 crisis, and a host of other issues tend to unsettle my awareness and enjoyment of the present moment. It’s the things I can’t do anything about, the things over which I have little influence over the short run, that cause unnecessary and meaningless aggravation.

So now my days begin differently. For the past fifteen years, I would get up at 4:50 a.m. in order to wash my face, brush my teeth and get down to the kitchen in time for the 5:00 news. The radio would remain on until breakfast was complete, the dishwasher unloaded, and the newspaper retrieved.

After the newspaper was consumed, my quite time – candle and all – would begin at 6:45 and run until 7:30. Any of the day’s driving around, trips to the prison, or working in my office, would be accompanied by whatever non-music stations I could find. Needless to say, many political websites are also bookmarked on my desktop PC and my laptop.

Now when I get up at 4:50, I get to the kitchen when I get there, the radio stays off, and the rest of the routine proceeds in silence until 7:30.

If it’s a prison day, my 90 minute morning drive is accompanied by music or nothing. I had gotten in the habit of listening to the P.O.T.U.S. channel on XM radio or the Diane Rehm show on NPR.

On the way home from the prison in the afternoon, I will listen to a variety of news, opinion, and talk shows. I do want to stay current while avoiding a day-long saturation or total immersion. I admit to listening to biased programs as long as guests present opposing points of view, but I completely avoid the shrill extremes of either political party.

This morning on the way to the prison I was loading a variety of CDs onto the car’s hard disk drive but not listening to much of it. Instead, I decided to have the car be quiet and direct my attention to the red bud trees all over the Ozark countryside.  It was a peaceful ride, filled with reflection and preparation for my visits with the offenders in solitary. With my previous practice, the beauty of our early spring would have gone unnoticed.

Without knowing the reason or, perhaps, not noticing any difference, the men in solitary confinement experience a different “me” than they would otherwise. Most aren’t interested in politics anyway, and my being pretty up-to-date on the NCAA basketball tournament proved to be more useful.

As I write this, the entire evening has been without radio, TV, stereo, or internet music. It’s quite nice.

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