Here we are in 2019. Honestly, I wasn’t sure we were going to survive 2018.
Let’s face it – things have been better in this country. We are so at odds with each other that it makes me a little sick to my stomach. We have broken into political tribes, and spend much of our time simply sniping verbally at each other.
The plan to divide and conquer is apparently working.
Now, I have often encouraged people to tune in and be politically smart. I have said don’t rely on cable news for your information, and to seek out as many legitimate news sources as possible. Being good, informed citizens is our responsibility.
But now, in 2019, I want to also encourage something else: Unplug.
That’s right, disengage from the screaming world around us from time to time. In 2019, I feel like we all need to take more time for ourselves and our loved ones.
Do you think spending time barking at a TV set is good for you? Arguing with your “crazy” uncle on Facebook? Reading Tweets from unhinged politicians? Listening to pundits who thrive on misinformation?
No. None of those things are good for you or your mental health. We spent way too much of 2018 gulping Tums and ranting about elected officials.
I think 2019 needs to be a year to step back. We need to learn to let some things just roll off of our shoulders. If you fly into a rage every time Nancy Pelosi’s name is mentioned, maybe you need a break. If the sight of Donald Trump makes you want to jump out of the nearest window, you probably need a vacation.
There is a beautiful world out there to explore, and I encourage everyone to do so. Yes, that can mean a camping trip to the woods, or a fishing trip to a nearby river or lake.
It can also mean a nice long vacation in our beautiful country. Love the beach? Go to one (and I recommend California as it is much more beautiful than Florida, not nearly as buggy and not humid).
Go skiing in the Rockies. Do some white water rafting in the Ozarks. Enjoy the view from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Visit my home state of Arizona to enjoy the Grand Canyon while trying to dodge scorpions and rattlesnakes.
There is a lot to see and enjoy in this country. But there is also a beautiful big world outside of it to enjoy. I think more Americans need to travel abroad to learn about other cultures and meet new people.
One thing you will learn is that other countries do some things much better than we do.
Visit Germany, or better yet, Denmark. Head south to Mexico, which is a stunning country. Visit Asia, or Africa. Look, listen and learn.
But most of all, simply unplug from your daily life and the noisy distractions it brings. Put down your phone. Don’t Google anything except nearby surf shops or places to eat exotic cuisine.
If a trip is not possible, just enjoy your immediate surroundings, including your family. Talk. Listen. Learn. Open yourself up to what is going on around you.
Let’s make 2019 a year all about being happy and open and learning something new. I think it will make us all a little happier, and we could certainly use that right about now.
And eat more tacos. Nothing is better than tacos.
Brad Jennings is editor of the Ogle County Life.