Bear with me here, I beg you:
On Sunday morning at 9 AM I flipped the channel to CBS, all set to watch ‘Sunday Morning’, that show that engages me, intrigues me, inspires me, and makes me laugh. I look forward to it every week and, except for the annual Fashion Special, it never disappoints. So imagine my dismay when, instead of Jane Pauley’s calm voice and a lineup of satisfying stories, I’m tuned in to…FOX NEWS.
I’m not kidding. My cable company (also the telephone company and the internet company) decided to switch what should have been CBS over to Fox. I couldn’t believe it. I kept flipping back and forth to make sure I hadn’t messed up and had mistaken Channel 9 for the dread Channel 12, the ‘normal’ spot for that network I avoid like the plague.
To add salt to the wounds, they did the same on Channel 3, a Fox outlet that has never been Fox News. So at 9 AM on Sunday Morning three out of our measly 36 channels were showing Fox News. It stayed that way for two or three hours, then went to infomercials, and then to their regular programming. I think. And since it was a Sunday there was no one to complain to. The office is closed.
I went into such a white-hot rage I scared myself. It was as if every feeling I’ve had since the insurrection attempt on January 6—hate and fear and abject powerlessness—burst through and threatened to bury me alive. They messed with ‘Sunday Morning’, a show most sacrosanct in my house, and threw the worst kind of shit at me. They replaced an all-American show with slimy, un-American propaganda and I saw it as the last straw. The final invasion. They were showing me how little control I have, even in my own home.
Was it on purpose? I don’t know. I didn’t call the cable company on Monday, as I’d planned. I gave up. This broke me. And I’m still broken. It may be forever this time.
I have to laugh, even now, at what a phony front I’ve put on and tried to hold for so many years. I’ve written how many pieces now about being brave opinionaters, about believing in our causes and writing with courage? Too many to count. Who was I trying to convince? You? Them? Me?
Even funnier, I wrote this piece, called ‘How to Survive Writing Opinion Pieces’ just four days ago. Four days ago. On that Friday before the Sunday happening, I still believed.
Now I may have to give up. After all these years of pontificating and feeling pretty good about it, that sudden terrifying rage on Sunday brought me to my knees and made me look at where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing—for so many years I can’t remember not doing it: I’ve been tearing my heart out and writing for an audience that was barely even there.
I’ve spent a good part of my entire writing life trying to make the world a better place and the world isn’t a better place. That part has nothing to do with me. I’m not such an egotist that I’d believe the world teeters one way or the other because of my actions. I’m meaningless. That’s the point. That’s what I’ve come to realize. Everything I’ve done, every one of the millions of words I’ve written to make the world a better place is meaningless, and I’ve wasted a lot of valuable time trying to change minds or even to inspire.
I’ll still be fighting for social justice. That will never stop. But I’ll do it on social media, in small doses, responding to something someone else wrote. There are so many others who do it so much better. What I need to do now is support them. To be a follower and not a would-be influencer.
I apologize for all those times I’ve scoffed at the need to relax and look at cute kitten pictures. I’ve resented all those calls to stop and smell the roses. I was on a mission! It couldn’t wait! My thinking was this: What is wrong with you people? Can’t you see how dire this is? How can we fix this if we’re not in it together??
I still believe it, but I’m bowing out of the fight. I won’t be missed and I’ll breathe better. I want to create that ‘beautiful content’. I have drafts and manuscripts all over the place, just waiting for me to settle down and give my heart to something else.
We’ll see how long it lasts.
Added: Some of you have the impression I’m going to quit writing altogether. No! I’m only switching gears. I’m going to stay away from political writing and concentrate instead on writing that fulfills me and is more creative. Sorry for the confusion.
Thanks for listening. I needed this and I needed to make it public. I could have written it in my journal, where I would be the only one to see it, but it would have been easier to dismiss, to ignore, to forget I’d ever felt this way. I don’t want to forget. I want to give myself permission to wake up and look around. I won’t forget what I’ve done before this—much of it is still meaningful to me and I’m not ashamed of any of it. But all the signs say it’s time to move on.