#LifeUnfiltered

Media doesn’t report the ordinary.

We depend on extremes, bombarded by horrific accounts of tragedy one minute, and entertained by doctored photographs the next. Who has the time to consider what is in between?

My wife has grown increasingly anxious concerning airline flights and public spaces. When we took Everett to his first movie on Thursday, she chose seats in the corner in case someone shoots up the place.

She told me this after the movie was over and we were walking down the street. I was carefully choosing words to soothe her worries, searching them out like hands feel for ripe fruit at the store. But nothing felt right.

I thumbed open my phone. A news feed opens automatically through some setting I never changed.

German News

“Don’t check the news,” I told her.

We attended a 10 AM showing of Finding Dory in the United States. A gunman held a German movie theater hostage at 10:30. She was right. How dare I try and calm her down when her intuition felt the terror of a gunman 4,000 miles away. Only a mother.

“Isn’t it awful.”

I looked up to hear where the voice was coming from.

“I stopped checking the news 10 years ago.”

A middle-aged woman, wrinkled ahead of schedule and wearing beige reading glasses spoke to us.

“I’ve been much more at ease since then. If you check the news, everything’s a direct threat to him.” She nodded in my son’s direction. He was too immersed in the reenactment of Dory’s escape from the back of a shipping truck to know he was the subject of conversation.

I chimed in. “That’s why I prefer social media. You get to connect and follow people you want to follow. People reporting good news. News from their everyday lives. That’s where the good stuff is.”

“I like that,” she responded. “I’m sure you have plenty to report with that little miracle there.” She again nodded to my son. His arms were now fins paddling through the humid summer air.

It couldn’t be coincidence that some stranger in front of Mattress Discounters described my purpose as a writer in a passing conversation. Could it?

 

I don’t believe we’re doomed.

I don’t think human nature has changed. I am a Hobbesian, believing our evil proclivities are imbedded in our nature. But, we are surrounded by choice. We can choose to do the right thing. And, if you know where to look, we are surrounded by people who do the right thing. You’re only more likely to find them in real life than on a news report.


The fact that bad things happen hasn’t changed. What’s changed is the accessibility of bad news.


Our phones are a vibrating transmission of doom, sitting in our pockets. I’m sure millions of people have viewed the German gunman story through dozens of news outlets via endless media portals.

It’s no wonder then that we require enhanced entertainment, augmented special effects, filtered photos—things that overcompensate to make life appear worth the while.

The Associated Press isn’t going to syndicate the story of a 3-year-old’s first trip to the movies.

That’s what I’m here to do.

I report the news I find fit to print.

So here it goes.

E.M.1

June 23, 2016 Md. First-time moviegoer underestimates popcorn container, leaves trail from concessions to seat. (AP)

 

There isn’t much more to tell. But maybe I can show you something.

He loved every minute of that movie. His eyes like two high beams fixed on a screen taller than our house, streaming countless pixels-per-second of Pixar magic.

The movie was wholesome, like the original. It created a great message about loving one another and devoting your lives to that love. Of course it was dressed up in dazzling visual filters to entertain. My attempts at filtering images are much more amateur. 

IMG_5284

A few clicks on Picasa and we’re stenciled in history.

We dress things up, filter them, enhance them beyond real life. But nothing enhances the soul quite like real life. It’s like a finely decorated Christmas Tree. The oohs and the ahs are directed toward the sparkles and ribbons and lights that adorn the limbs, but the substance of the spectacle is the tree.

The experience behind the doctored photograph is what really counts.

The miracle behind the magic is what is worth reporting.

It is magic to watch a movie studio anthropomorphize sea creatures in dazzling animation. It is a miracle to watch a 3-year-old believe that new and incredible things are possible.

I enjoyed watching him watch the movie more than he enjoyed watching the movie. And that is a miracle—to be so lost in love for another person that I forget myself.

 

Humanity has the capacity for unspeakable evil and magical special effects.

Must we be informed every time we exercise our capacity for cruelty? Must we dress up the mundane in order to call it beautiful?

Before we check our phones—before a crazed gunman wields a semi-automatic in Germany—before we are filtered to appear dazzling—before we are aware that our image will be captured—a father and his son sit in a movie theater.

E and me

Let’s take back the news. Find your miracle of the mundane. Post something this week with the hashtag #LifeUnfiltered and let’s make real life great again.

30 Responses to “#LifeUnfiltered

  • Love!!!! What a beautiful piece!
    I needed this.
    Thank you.
    xo

  • “If it bleeds it leads” the old journalism saw goes.

    Great piece Mark – certainly the more mundane things are never reported, but certainly are kept in the photo albums and keepsakes of our minds, especially for the younger ones. I may remember some of the key tragedies of our time, but most likely I will remember the people who made me feel good about myself, or who helped me or were there for me when I needed them most. We may be wired to engage in evil or wrongdoing, but I think we generally steer towards looking towards the light rather than the dark.

    Lovely read and hopefully people will post with the hashtag. Be good to see some pleasant news buzz me up.

    Paul

    • You know I never heard that journalism bit. But I’m not surprised about it at all.

      I’d like to think we steer towards the light generally. I just think it doesn’t come natural to us. As in, it’s up to people to teach us to look to the light. Sounds like you have some Voltaire in you sir!

      Thanks for stopping by Paul! It’s always good to see you here, still carrying the message. Always carrying the message.

  • Agree with Lora. What a nice piece. After all, there is so much good in the world in the simple, the mundane, the quotidian, the “average”—so much so that the mundane really is much more lovely and magical than we can conceive. A friend told me something else she does about the awfulness we see daily on the news. When I complained to her that I like to keep up to date and review the daily happenings, but I don’t like how much it gets me down, she said, “I still watch the news. Read it, too.”

    I asked, “How do you keep from getting depressed, from so much anxiety?”

    She told me that she used to get that way as well, but that ever since she began praying for those who suffer in the bad news, and actively looking for the good in the situation, it changed her perspective.

    I’ve never forgotten that conversation.

    As always, Mark . . . wonderfully crafted and thought-out. Nicely done!

    – DDM

    • Thank you for this story. It’s something I can do more of. When I pray, I tend to get tunnel vision to pray for the people immediately in my life. I think prayer for all those who suffer on the news we receive would be reall helpful. I’m going to give it a shot!

  • Christine McLaughlin
    11 months ago

    Love! My son is now 12, but I remember taking him to his first movie. Like you, the thrill in it for me was to watch my son’s reaction.

    When my son and I had our first conversation about “evil”, I showed him my hand. I told him that half of my pinky finger represented the “bad things” and the rest of my hand was all the goodness in people and the world. He caught me off guard with his question about evil, but to this day, if he hears something at school related to negative news, he will tell me about it and remind me: “It’s just in the pinky Momo, don’t forget that.”
    #LifeUnfiltered

    • What an incredible way to speak to a child. I’m stealing it! My son is almost 4, and I have a sneaking suspicion that questions like that are about to blow up my world! The first to use the hashtag! Awesome!

    • Christine- would you like me to publish this on my next blog post. I’m compiling a list of moments like this. I’d need to include some sort of media (even if it’s just social media). If you’re interested please contact me? If not, I understand.

      • Christine McLaughlin
        11 months ago

        Sure. I’m fine with that. My perfectionist self (working on it!) wants you to add “At the time” before the sentence: He caught me off-guard… 🙂

        Christine

        • I get that. Speaking of perfectionism, if you want me to include a pic, web links, social media contact or whatever, just email me at
          Goodson.Mark @ gmail dot com

  • Nice going Mark. Positive Thinking at its best!

  • Awwww, your wife. You know the last 2 times my “little one” who is actually 15, flew to see her older brother a few states over, I had some worries and nerves about the trip. About terrorists and what would my shy little girl do, and she would be so afraid, and I could really make myself miserable with all of my “what ifs” ….I so get that! We love these little appendages of ourselves more than we ever knew was possible!
    This story reminded me of a time years ago when we took “my girl” to a play. I had just had our third baby which made her “the middle child” and we were determined that she would not feel lost in the shuffle. So we took her to a play that was being shown in a huge circus tent in the middle of the city closest to our town. It was theatre “in the round” and the play was Fiddler on The Roof and Yes!!! We LOVED watching her be so captivated by the play. It remains one of my favorite memories with her.
    I’m going to be thinking of my #lifeunfiltered moment…thank you Mark for nudging us to look for the good. <3

    • It is an amazing feeling. Just to watch someone else enjoy something and have THAT fill you with happiness. That’s exactly it Annette! I think that’s the miracle. All that other hooplah and spectacle stuff is entertainers making money. I was always a fan of My Girl the movie. For a while I’ve been sort of rolling my eyes at my wife’s worries. Then this German shooter news broke literally as we were in the theater. It’s crazy.

  • Your post made me cry knowing that your wife is fearful going to a movie. And then I saw your beautiful boy and that made me cry again! He looks so little sitting there. But don’t mind me. I am feeling blue and melancholy this week with my “baby” graduating and going out into the world. I am fearful for her future. But you are right. There is miracles all around us. And it is good

    • ENJOY this time Birdie! The little birdie is flying the nest! I think that’s wonderful.

    • Birdie – if you have a moment you’d like me to post on Friday, I’m doing a collaboration of LifeUnfiltered news stories. Please let me know! I would be honored to include your baby graduating. It can be either written (like a paragraph description) or a picture. I would like to your blog. And, of course, I understand if you choose not to participate. Take care and enjoy your baby’s graduation!

  • Great anecdote that serves to remind us all; that while we fret about other’s problems, driven by politically biased media, life passes us by!

    Stop reading mass-media, tailor your input to suit your intended output.

    Thanks Mark.

    • Hey Mat! I do try. Some news though just gets blasted everywhere. I’m going to go read the speech you emailed me now…

  • I love this. A friend and I were just talking about this. He’s been really depressed for 3 weeks and he’s been able to get on the other side of it by appreciating little stuff like lunch with his daughters and afternoon rainstorms. I’ve been feeling that too. Walking to the farmer’s market, laughing with friends or naps with the cats seem like actual news because they’re making me feel better. I always have to remember all of it, good or bad, is just information. It’s kind of up to me if I respond to it or not. Today, I’m going to try to choose happiness over doom and gloom. Thanks for the reminder!

    • I’m sorry to hear your friends been ‘in it’ recently. I certainly know what that feels like. Hey, thanks for tweeting this out Sean, I really appreciate it. I was thinking of your last post (the Amtrak one) when I was writing this too. It’s the simple things that bring joy.

  • Yes! You have the uncanny ability to put (beautiful) words to things I too believe. Like that bit about media forcing the bad news on us as long as we choose to look. Reporting happens fast and furious and before many of the facts are in. It would seem the world is ending, but in many cases it’s a matter of selling the news. Bad still exists, but so does good. Oh and we loved the movie too. Finding Nemo was the first movie my teenager ever saw, so this was a neat moment for her. We all pretty much want a pet octopus now.

    • What a great coincidence! (the first movie-going for off spring part). Thank you for the genrous feedback Kristen. I thought Dory was as good as the original. It followed the same recipe, but it was brand new ingredients, so it felt totally fresh. Pet octopus, right? What a great character Hank was…

  • Mark, once again you strike such a deep chasm in my soul. It has brought back a few tears as I remember all the movies with Kam. Her eyes alive with amazement and belief in what she saw life as. For her it was a fairy tale, just an ordinary old fairy tale. Brother I appreciate the inspiration and I accept the challenge and this week will be dedicated to helping you take back the news and making real life great. #LifeUnfiltered

  • Ginger Groundhog
    11 months ago

    I do not watch the news because it is designed to keep us in fear not informed. I love the ‘if it bleeds it leads’, sums it all up really. Slightly off the movie theme but everyday I walk my dogs at about 6:30 in the beautiful Cornish countryside. This morning I stopped and took a picture of a frog/toad I had never seen before. It made my morning. Connecting with nature always grounds me and reminds me that it is the simplest things that bring me the most happiness.

    • Incredible example of exactly what this post is about. That’s awesome. I’m taking my boy camping Wednesday night in search of that same peace. Keep that great routine Ginger!

  • I am really learning to see my real life now.
    When I was drinking, I was not happy with my unfiltered life.
    I thought it was boring.
    All that happened is that I made myself and hubs unhappy by constant comparing.
    My life is my life.
    Just as it is.
    xo
    Wendy

    • Who’d have thought the real and the mundane stuff would have been sources of joy? I know I sure didn’t. Thanks for reason Wendy! Hope you have a great day weekend.

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