Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace – Dalai Lama
Earlier this week, I featured the above photo of a blowhole that I photographed in Maui 2 years ago. I included a top level geological explanation for the phenomena based on information gleaned from wikipedia. In addition to geological blowholes (don’t you just love that word?), there are other definitions. Water mammals such as whales and dolphins have blowholes which are openings on top of their heads for breathing. I love being along the Carolina coast in early morning – looking for the small burst of water/air that may appear as a fin also glides by the horizon during breakfast feeding time for a school of dolphins. Another definition of blowhole is a vent to permit the escape of air or gas – this makes me think of broadcast and social media commentary on current politics.
One of my regular challenges, as a writer, is – I’m not the best speller or even fluent with the definition of many words. So, I will sometimes mis-use words as it fits whatever incoherent meanderings I’m ruminating on for the moment. My sense of humor kicks in and I become unstoppable in my mis-use of words. When I started to think about blowholes this week, my mind immediately went to social media and all other commentary around the 2016 Presidential elections. Like many people, I don’t have a strong favorite this year. That being said, I’m distressed by the blowholes (or are they blow hards – see what I mean about words?) that spew out such opinionated and down right mean messages about both candidates. Both candidates battle for the coveted prize of higher public opinion ratings by spewing verbiage that often sounds like noise to attract attention and approval ratings. As they skirt the treacherous path of being super human, pressure mounts and missteps result in deceptive drama or outrageous claims. In a soundbite, latest misstep sagas rise and spurt contradictory explanations all over the media and blog sphere. Very little undistorted facts are readily available to validate either sides’ story. For as many sources claiming fact, there are as many claiming foul. The public gets fueled by the surge and volume of meaningless, muddled information. As if too much gas has built up, social media feeds erupt in some really ugly commentary on whichever candidate is liked the least. Rumors have it that long time Facebook friends, unfriend adversaries of a different political viewpoint in the aftermath of more volatile eruptions.
My metaphorical mind travelled down this blowhole path and wondered – are people just trying to breathe? Are we living in a leaderless, empty cave where the pressure of the malcontent has built up over time? – Or – Is this just an escape of American gas after consuming too much bad information (TMBI should build more pressure than general TMI, right)?
When I think of the Maui blowhole, the tranquil deep aqua colored ocean seems passive. Sometimes you may not even see the larger wave forming before it hits the rocky shore and fills the cave that is not visible from the cliffs above. The resulting internal pressure creates a huge burst of water which can be quite dangerous to anyone standing close by. Are Americans who have such dissatisfaction in our leadership choices complacent as well as complicit in the quality of our candidates this political season? Is there a silent wave of uncertainty that is causing the pressure to build? What can we do, positively, to create an environment so that more desireable leaders emerge? Why are insults about whichever side is least desirable our only response?
Like a cautious tourist, who enjoys the mystery and drama of natural water erupting at a blowhole, I’ve been on the side lines this political season. Part of the rationale for my behavior is that I don’t want to get sucked into negativity. Also, like many, I have a decent life. I seek more ease in life. Time consuming research to unearth unbiased, factual assessments of either candidate, isn’t a high priority. At this stage in life, I’m attempting to cultivate the Dalai Lama’s advice “Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” Does a tourist-like lack of engagement make me complicit in the lack of leadership options that are way outside of my sphere of influence?
Perhaps much of the on-line/on-air spewing is a release of angst. Our lives may be good, but we can’t see with certainty the impact of silent, powerful waves forming on the horizon. Daily news reports bring calamity after calamity into our homes. We believe assertions that things aren’t as good as they were in the good ole’ days. Neither candidate gives us hope. While some believe the outcome of the elections will not significantly impact our daily lives, others fear it might. Some populations in the US feel injustice on a daily basis, but I suspect the “average” American is better off than many others who live on this planet. Despite the rants, many still trust the system to keep us in a safe place where we can remain as tourists – watching dramas and scandals from afar, weighing in with whatever opinion we believe is true. I desperately hold on to a belief that our country and its people have “just” intentions. We will survive the outcome of 2016 elections. I hope the blowholes continue to be brief eruptions of pent up gas and don’t destroy our collective inner peace in the long run. When planning for future outcomes in the business world, I was always reminded, that hope is not a strategy. But from my little corner of the US, I can only hope. Hope allows me to keep my inner peace. I refuse to get too close to blowholes and fear for my survival. I’m drawn to a passage from the Bible “our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” (1 Chronicles 21)
Least my meanderings lead me down a treacherous blowhole path, I’m gonna stop this metaphor for now. Until next time – wishing you inner peace!