Being conscious

I haven’t sat down to do much thinking in the past few days, mostly because last week was so stressful. I suppose it’s part of my personality to overthink everything, and I guess that’s why I had trouble sorting out all of the problems on campus. I tried for days, in vain, to find an answer to hateful comments and persistent ignorance.

Part of me thought we were out of the woods when the Yik Yak attacker was arrested. It seemed for a moment like we had two days of peace. I let my mind process the protests and the hunger strike, and I found solace in the middle ground. The negative comments dwindled and the attention on the national media nearly stopped. I put my mind to rest in a complacent state.

Then came Paris. And Beirut. And everywhere else in the world that seems to be suffering from this perpetual cycle of hate and killing.

As journalists, it’s our job to read the news. We have to constantly read or see or hear about everything awful in the world. We try to sprinkle in some good here and there, but the reality is that most of the stories worth reporting have some kind of hardship.

Sometimes I wonder how I keep myself from going insane.

The other night at work I was reminded of a quote I read earlier in the semester by Anne Lamott in her book, Bird By Bird.

“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.”

Her words comforted me because they reminded me that it’s OK to care, it’s OK to be present and willing to feel; it’s OK to be conscious. In fact, it’s encouraged.

Selfishly, a lot of my purpose as a writer is to sort out my own thoughts and emotions for myself. But sometimes it resonates with a greater audience. I think that’s one of the great challenges of journalism.

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