was a palindrome year, reading the same backward as forward, in
fact the year felt pretty much that way; the same backward as forward.
It’s doubtful any of us will be around for the next palindrome
occurrence, it won’t happen again till 2112.
So, with funny hats and noisemakers removed to the trash we must
now get on with the new year. Resolutions are an important part
of new beginnings; the new moon falling so near this New Year lends
I saw a headline the other day on a news website, “2003 Set
To Be Warmest On Record.” Against my better judgment I read
the story. Poor old El Niño was once again the culprit. It
matters little that El Niño is a natural occurrence and has
existed for eons, in the news business it’s a crisis and the
electronic media knows full well that crisis sells. Curiously our
fourth President James Madison once said, “Crisis is the cry
of the tyrant.”
Several years ago I made a resolution not to watch TV news. That
night on the evening news, the first five stories were comprised
of poll results. The networks conduct the polls then report the
results as news. I consider that manufacturing news. I stopped watching.
Today’s trend in TV news exudes dramatically synthetic theme
music accompanied by lavish graphics and logos. Then, as if that
weren’t enough, they cram dizzying and distracting volumes
of information into the ‘lower third’; that congested
bottom portion of your TV screen. The picture itself becomes little
more than a postage stamp.
Another unsavory trend is to preconceive a story’s result
before an interview is conducted. The reporter must then tongue
lash the interviewee until sound bites, supporting that preconceived
result, are extracted. Seems as though they’ve got it backward.
News should not be preordained, but a discovery of truth. Next to
ratings, the single most important thing about TV news is hair.
The coif is king; Jack Aernecke is a definite rarity. My rule of
thumb: nothing on TV is real.
Radio is slightly better. I occasionally catch the BBC. I like their
simplicity, no news theme just a news broadcaster saying, “This
is BBC news.” Chicago’s WGN still subscribes to this
style, one of the few yet to succumb to the noise and clatter.
Back in the 60’s news themes became fashionable. I recall
one night parked on a quiet country road with a lovely young lady.
We had the radio on listening to WLS in Chicago, the rock and roll
giant of the time. We were engaged in tender, intimate conversation
when the news bulletin theme exploded from the radio. The sound
was horrifying and nearly shook us out of our skin. I’ve never
quite forgotten that ‘end of the world’ sound. I reached
for the volume control knob. The bulletin the newsman related was,
on this occasion, as earth shaking as the theme music intimated.
Robert Kennedy had been shot.
These days the crisis alarm rarely lives up to the sound and fury,
it’s more the boy who cried wolf. There’s too much hype
over too little content; the trivial disguised as the invaluable.
The news media briefly rose to Edward R. Morrow’s level of
excellence on 9/11, but as quickly backslid to their previous behavior.
So, until they remove the entertainer’s guise and resolve
to seek out objective truth, I’ll remain happily resolved
not to watch them. Resolutions are beneficial friends.
Resolutions signify spring cleaning to me. It’s cleaning out
the closet or garage or basement or clearing off the desk. A friend
at a New Year’s Day gathering mentioned he was a bit of a
pack rat, papers and records going back years. He theorized it might
be our attempt at immortality. He makes a valid point. But with
the beginning of each New Year we have the golden opportunity to
free ourselves of clutter and to refocus our untidy selves on those
things that hold the most importance. January is a brittle month,
a fine time to hunker down and focus on constructive change.
It is change that is at the core of our resolutions; change being
life’s one constant. Once we identify and discard that which
is unnecessary in our lives, we more clearly begin to see that which
Find a pencil and paper and in one paragraph define your dream.
What do you truly want from the living of your life? Then write
one goal that will signal you’ve accomplished it. Next, list
things, little things you could do every day, baby steps you could
take that will lead toward your dream. It’s deceptively simple
and more difficult than you think. It’s difficult to clearly
define your dream, more difficult to commit to the task of taking
daily steps in that direction, but it’s possible. “Leap
and the net will appear,” my friend Julia Cameron says, and
Life is change, bursting with magic and mystery, passion and hope.
It’s your life; set the bar high, dare to dream and live.
The heart is where abundance and joy reside, may life fill yours
with both this New Year.
We’ll talk next time From The Road.