I am a firm believer and potential preacher of the notion that positive energy is as infectious as negative energy. But, I also attest to the idea that positive energy is compounding in a slower growing process than a hit of negativity. Positive energy builds and blooms. Negativity is like a guillotine. It is swift and shocking and takes time to recover from. A dark cloud that hangs menacingly if there is no conscious decision to step out and away.
I made a bold choice a few weeks ago. I decided to stop reading the news. It was a borderline rash decision that came from a moment of desperation to simplify my life.
It was cold turkey. No more local news. No more smutty news about celebrities and their melodrama. No more national news swirling with political propaganda and hate.
The television is rarely on in our house and has never been turned to news. The television news is unpredictable at best with its focus on shock value. It is overwhelmingly depressing with a string of terrifying and worrisome stories about what is going wrong in our world. We choose not to subject our family, our children, to this type of news.
But, the written news has insidious tentacles. It pulls you in and grabs your attention when there is a lull, a bit of boredom and a searching need to fill the space. It has a hook that snags.
It is informative. There is absolutely no doubt of this. It keeps us up to date on what is happening in our world. It gives us a briefing on the bits that affect our future and our current state of affairs.
When I made the choice to stop reading the news, I had a momentary panic attack. I worried I was becoming an ostrich who would be stuck with my head in the sand. A complete unawareness of what was happening out there.
A girl can dream right?
With the access to information of any type, and reliability, ready at our fingertips and a multitude of social media options, it is nearly impossible to step away completely.
Right now I am choosing to separate from the outlets that do not give me the news I want. The positive energy. The stories that restore faith in humanity. The stories that tell of kindness. That stories full of hope.
Not pipe dreams. Not rose colored glasses. Reality.
Presented without an emphasis on shock value.
Last week I fell of the wagon a bit. I was in the quiet place of no interruptions and a desire to fill the minutes with something. I opened our local newspaper’s website and was blasted with a headline. A tempting rabbit hole that I fell straight down.
A current swim instructor had been arrested for videotaping female employees at our local pool. It appeared to be an isolated incident based on the headline. But, I didn’t leave it there. I opened the article, I kept reading. I got hooked and was thrown a disconcerting curveball.
Upon his arrest, he was found to be in possession of child porn.
I took a step back in time. I went back in my memory bank and replayed a specific incident. One that left me icky and unsettled four years ago.
This man was a teacher of a Pepper’s for eight swim lessons when she was three years old. My observations told me he was a good man. No red flags. No radar blips. Nothing.
Midway through our swim session, I was pulled aside after a lesson by another mom in the locker room. Her student was in a different class. She told me that I needed to pay closer attention to my child during lessons because this man was pushing the line.
The lessons were 25 minutes long. I sat poolside and was within 20-feet of my child at all times. The entire lesson.
My initial reaction to her statement was offense at what I perceived to be her suggestion that I was not aware of something happening right.in.front.of.my.face.
I moved to being defensive of this seemingly okay man who was being potentially demonized for no obvious wrongdoing.
And, then I dug deeper. I doubted my ability as a parent to protect my child because it seemed obvious I had missed something. Otherwise she would not have mentioned anything. Right?
We finished out the session. I turned on my hawk eyes and flexed my mama bear muscles. I settled Pepper’s questioning of what she had overheard from this parent and did my best to sooth her worried queries.
I vented to Thor and spewed my thoughts in a dizzying fashion.
Four years later, I opened this news story.
And, I was socked full fist deep into my gut and spent spinning back on the merry-go-round of mixed emotions.
I have no fear that my child was unsafe during those swim lessons so long ago and am confident that no lines were crossed.
I began wondering again what signs I had missed that this other mom saw. I had doubt of my ability as a parent to protect.
I wept tears of gratitude that no more lessons were enrolled in with this same teacher.
I evaluated why I had stepped over the ledge into the rabbit hole. What had I gained from this knowledge?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing positive.
I did not need the information. The past is the past. Truly just that.
I cannot change that eight week swim session. I cannot go back in time and put on different glasses or see new information.
The only thing I received was a deep sense of vulnerability for the evil that is in this world and an opportunity to question my capabilities as a parent.
This is not worth it for me. Having the information is not worth the negative energy that swirled and erupted as a result of simply being informed.
As I move forward, I choose to spread joy and find the hope. The kindness. The good.
I choose to seek information that will allow me to grow, to learn, and to parent better. To love more fully.
That is what I can control and what I can surround myself with. And, right now, the mainstream news does not support that. One harsh lesson at time and I am moving forward.