Do you know what I discovered this week? I just got back from news junkie rehab, and it was quite the journey! When we last spoke, I was committed to chilling out in my end-of-summer garden, abstaining from all news outlets for an extended period of time, and regaining my peace of mind that had been brutally shredded by the bombardment of too many sources of information in order to stay “au courant” as a blogger. Having recently been diagnosed with “The Sugar” (partially caused by stress), I had become a teetotaler vegan who planned to master a fartless lotus position while I meditated myself into a Zen-like state of catatonia. But somewhere in the midst of it all, I “fell off the wagon” and my husband (WW) had to stage an intervention. I don’t know how it happened. All I remember is going to the salon to get a mani-pedi, mindlessly browsing through a couple of copies of OK! Magazine and promptly falling asleep in the pedicure chair while I feverishly murmured: “I can’t believe Mariah and Nick are getting a divorce; I didn’t know Jordan Sparks and Jason Derulo had split after he took her virginity (that bastard!); and what is this world coming to now that Pat and Gina Neeley of ‘Down Home with the Neeleys’ are getting divorced after twenty years of marriage and fabulous recipes? not to mention that Tyler Perry’s having a baby (I always thought he was gay) ….”
I dreamt that my husband (WW) came to the mani-pedi salon to rescue me at the behest of my manicurist. In my haze I could hear Suchi mumble something about getting me some help, and my husband responding that he was staging an intervention that very day, and that he knew just where to take me to do it: Vancouver, Canada.
SUCHI: Who’s in Vancouver, Mr. John?
WW: Not who, Suchi, what! A cruise ship. Once we get to Canada, after several days of decompression, we’ll set sail on a cruise to Hawaii, starting with five days at sea and no Internet access that is worth the cost—I’ve seen to that. I’ve planned the entire itinerary: sea-day upon sea-day, day-long hikes upon docking at several islands, helicopter rides in the morning, dancing in the evenings, fine dining, and entertainment. There will be absolutely no way on God’s green Earth that my wife will have time for gathering bad news from anywhere. By the time she gets finished with the itinerary I’ve planned for her each day, the only thing she’ll be able to do is fall into bed and go to sleep. When we return in fourteen days, she will be a changed woman. You’ll see.
SUCHI: Well, if you say so, my friend. She’s pretty far gone from “newsites” overload—the worst I’ve ever seen in my customers. I wish you smooth sailing, Mr. John. Bon Voyage!
Vancouver Harbor||Photo Credit: E. Tomczyk
From what I can remember, Vancouver was lovely but rainy. But WW insisted that we bundle up and walk the sea wall, Gastown, and China Town. (After six hours of walking in the rain with my ass truly dragging, we stopped for a delicious lunch at The Flying Pig.) I must admit that I began to feel clear-headed for the first time in months. Of course, it might have been the Three Pea-Split Soup and the Seared Chili-Rubbed Skirt Steak. The restaurant was really lovely, but the TV in the hotel room didn’t seem to work when we got back for me to catch up on the daily news. I could feel the energy of news happening all around the world, and I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I developed a nervous tic. I tried to check out Huff Post, CNN, or the NYTimes on my phone while WW was in the bathroom, but almost immediately I got a message from my carrier telling me that I was dangerously approaching my expanded data limit, and I needed to call them ASAP!
CELL CARRIER: Mrs. Tomczyk, you have already spent ten times your original data allowance and you’ve only been traveling 24 hours, according to what you’ve just told me. I’ll adjust your bill and take off these charges, but I’m warning you: shut off your phone on the ship. Turn it to airplane mode. I cannot save you from the ship’s charges. They are their own government. At the rate you’re going, you’ll owe thousands of dollars in roaming charges by the time you return just because you want to stay “connected.” Once you are three miles away from the ship at each port, you can turn your phone on. Is that clear? I’ve been very gracious to you, but if you turn your phone on at sea, you are on your own.
ME: But, but . . . what about the news? How will I know what’s going on? What if the world ends?
CELL CARRIER: Seriously, Ma’am? And you could stop the world from ending, how? You have a choice, Mrs. Tomczyk. It’s up to you: either pay us the thousands of dollars needed to facilitate your data gathering or forget about the world for 12 days. Besides if zombies attack or we enter WWIII, the Captain will let you know.
ME: [mumbled after hanging up] Smart ass—everybody’s a critic.
The ship was exquisite, our room expansive and gorgeous, the food was outstanding, but no one told me that the Alaska current from the Bering Sea could or would mingle with the subarctic current on our way west and then south to Hawaii (I had assumed the ship would follow the coast line of California and Mexico and then scoot over). At 6:00 a.m. the first day at sea, waves that some say were 18 – 25 ft. high (they felt like they were 60 ft. high) attacked the ship while I was on a treadmill determined to keep off the weight I had lost before the cruise, crashing against the vessel (one of them being a rogue wave), and sending me flying. At the time, I was attempting to read the tiny news scroll from CNN, Fox News (yes, I was so desperate for news, I had stooped to “Faux News”), and MSNBC on the treadmill. All that reading, while riding the waves from Hell on an inclined treadmill, must have tripped my stomach into what I called the Great Bering Sea rock-and-roll upchuck—six times. By the time I got to the infirmary along with the rest of the ship, my brown skin was as green as a farmer’s market cucumber. Taking one look at me, the Doc wasted no time: “Nurse, give the patient two shots in the bum.” I was ordered to close my eyes and go to sleep (not that I had much choice—the drug could have dropped an elephant in its tracks), and try and live to see another day. I couldn’t read anything without getting nauseous—not a book and certainly not my iPhone.
By God’s grace I was back on my feet by dinner and able to enjoy a wonderful meal and keep it down. Many of the passengers could not do so for days, so I considered myself lucky. I obeyed my cell carrier (I’m convinced WW paid him off) and didn’t try to turn on my phone but simply relished in the wonderful moments of being at sea with the love of my life (my man, not my iPhone).
On the sixth day, heaven appeared, and I promptly forgot about being in the know about the troubles of this world. (Have I ever told you that God was having a really good day when he made Hawaii?)
Oahu ranch used for movie making||Setting for the filming of: Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Lost, and Jurassic Park||Photo Credit: JTomczyk
Blogger and Main Squeeze getting ready to helicopter around Oahu||Photo Credit: ETomczyk
Diamond Head from helicopter||Photo Credit: JTomczyk
Helicopter view of active volcano in Hawaii (the big island) ||Photo Credit: ETomczyk
We had a TV in our room but it only featured a couple news outlets and they kept losing their satellite feed. At one point toward the end of the cruise, the server went down and by the time it came back up signals had crossed, and Musette’s Waltz from La Bohème was blaring over the newscaster’s report. I could only half-way make out that there was a revolution happening in Hong Kong that had something to do with umbrellas and that someone had come to the United States carrying the Ebola virus, while the prostitute, Musette, robustly sang in Italian: “When I walk alone in the street, people stop and stare at me.” Puccini won over CNN International. (Somehow, I think WW paid some technician off to make that channel mash-up happen in our cabin because no one else on the ship had a clue about it when I explained the Puccini take-over. You’d be amazed at what my man is capable of doing once he sets his mind to it.)
Used by Permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times, Tribune
I am discovering that I had temporarily lost my way, and the bombardment of so many nefarious messages from people with mixed motives, hateful hearts, and gossipy tongues had almost taken control of my spirit. I had been especially manipulated by the haters of our President who wish him ill (have you heard that the spread of Ebola is his fault?*), as if keeping informed and getting incensed over their defamations would keep President Obama from being hurt or assassinated. I had forgotten that I don’t have control over much, including the success of our first black president, but I do have control over my own peace of mind. I had forgotten about letting go of issues and negative attitudes, actively forgiving, not judging others, and trusting that God will make all things right if I just trust in him. I had forgotten that it is my responsibility to keep my heart free of fear, and that my perspective will need cleaning up from time to time—much like scouring a cruddy skillet spotless with a spiritual Brillo pad.
Thanks “My Captain! My Captain” for whisking me away to Paradise and giving me a refreshed perspective on life—for restoring my peace of mind.
Hiking in a Hawaiian rain forest on Maui with “My Captain”—as close to total peace of mind as I can get!
“We are bombarded on all sides by a vast number of messages we don’t want or need. More information is generated in a single day than we can absorb in a lifetime. To fully enjoy life, all of us must find our own breathing space and peace of mind.”—James E. Faust
“I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.’”—Elayne Boosler
“I never will have peace of mind. I’m not constructed that way. Some things in life can be horrible.”—Julie Christie
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