Which means, “Do not watch morning news while eating breakfast.” Two TV’s blaring at my Bangkok hotel’s dining room and just in case I was feeling happy about teaching jazz to 50 Thai teachers or feeling hopeful after seeing the bird land in front of Bernie Sanders, the news suggested I start the day feeling hopeless about the human condition. Suicide bombers in Pakistan, more aftermath of the Brussels incident, protest here, disaster there. Just the usual fare with your eggs and toast, served up at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Under the guise of keeping you informed, it’s a 24/7 conspiracy to keep the fear level on orange and choose between being empathic and overwhelmed by the sheer weight of so much human suffering or smugly satisfied that it happened over there and not here, to them and not you.
“I know the world’s being shaved by a drunken barber,” says the Walter Brennan character in the film Meet John Doe who refuses to read newspapers. “I don’t need to read about it.” Would that we were all so wise. Of course, some things feel important to know, but how much and how often and how presented? And might it be as important to hear about the small daily victories, the entire day when no one in this place was murdered or jailed or went hungry and a surprising number of people were kind to each other without any hope of reward or punishment? (Or any thought of getting on the news?)
Any blog reader knows I have an excess of opinion about what might make the world better and do my part to convince others of a few useful tips. But what do I know? I just know that I’m not capable of eating breakfast and watching the news—or lunch or dinner, for that matter. I know that today I saw 50 reasons to be hopeful about humanity as people danced so joyfully and sang with gusto and played with faces amazed by the beauty and power of the sounds they were generating without having had to go home and practice music. Right here, right now, in company with others, from delicate improvisations to hot jazz solos. All the miracles the damn news will never report. And so I do here. It was real. It happened. And it was glorious.
Friends, begin the day with hope, keep it well exercised as the sun arcs across the sky, end with a poem to read or write or listen to Bach or Miles to remind yourself that while the worst of us is paraded across the screens, the best of us is every bit as present and real. I believe that hope begets more hope and I say to hell with the drunken barbers.
Tomorrow morning, I'm ordering room service.