I was recently advising a new newspaper publisher about the world of small town news. I realized, halfway through my ranting that I was angry, bitter, and cynical.
It wasn’t always like that.
* * *
Several times in my young life, I was fortunate enough to visit Disney World — The Magic Kingdom itself. And it was magic. Even into my teen years, the magic caught hold, and fun was the inevitable result.
In my adult years however, I returned to The Magic Kingdom with a friend who had an administrative job there, and I got to see behind the magic…
… And the magic was gone.
Sure, I still love cartoons, Mickey, Goofy – the whole crew. But for me, the Magic Kingdom is magic no more.
Being a small town reporter was a similar experience for me.
You see, I believed the magic. I believed in the system, and how it should work. I believe in strong, local, principled government, and how it should work. I believe in the goodness of good people, and that most people are mostly good.
And for the most part — much of that lies true.
Who would have imagined that an officer would take advantage of his power? That a council would cheat? That commissioners steal spam and the justice system fails and that people want to get angry about a problem, but they don’t want to fix it? Embezzlers, fraud, hidden agendas, prejudice, lies….
I didn’t want to know these things. Though some folks may never believe it, I didn’t SEEK this knowledge out. I simply PAID ATTENTION.
And bit by bit — everything lost it’s magic.
Of course it doesn’t help when you’re also harassed on the internet, stalked by a psychopath, embraced by other psychopaths — in addition to the complications of the knowledge you process, what to tell, what not to tell – what really of all the mess is the public’s best interest to know.
It was a burden, and the magic was lost.
I was disillusioned, and now I’m cynical. And even after more than two years has passed, I maintain my cynicism, but not because I want to. See, on a regular basis, I give the “establishment” a chance to magically work as it should. I give the “system” a new opportunity to regain my faith.
It hasn’t yet, but I doubt if I ever stop trying. I don’t WANT to be cynical. I just have my doubts now. I can’t help it.
So, I let the world do whatever it does, and I do my thing. Many in this world think I’m a member of CalPatty Press. I’m not. Many in this world think I’m a good for nothing loser. I’m not. Many think I’m a mature, responsible adult. I think that gives me wayyyy too much credit. Many think I’ve got it all together. I don’t. My mother thinks I’m the smartest kid in school – sometimes I’m prone to agree with her, but I can’t seem to convince any one else.
Some folks think I’m odd – - and, maybe so. But I’ve come to find that most people are odd in some strange way.
I just don’t want to know the details.
I want the magic back.
That’s why we launched Two-Lane Livin’. That’s why we turned our focus on self-reliance, good feelings, healthy lifestyles. Anyone who plants a seed in spring and bites into a resulting tomato in fall knows — it’s magic. Anyone who has chickens knows that more eggs appear each day — like magic. Bread rises, garlic heals, and the knowledge that you can sustain yourself is liberating – renewing – uplifting. It’s magic.
Talk to me about gardens, chickens, herbs, vegetables, bees, worms, or the weather — and I’m happy go lucky. Ask me about media, government, justice, politics and I’ll swing to the cynical side. It’s simply the world now, as I see it.
I’m a work in progress, like anyone else. And right now, my focus is finding that magic. Until then, I might appear a little cynical. That’s the downfall of being a realist. It’s easy to spy the cracks in the system, and hard to find the magic.
But I keep looking.