At the time you’re reading this, we two will be readying to fly home after a few days off the coast of Maine on tiny little Peak’s Island, three miles east of Portland and reachable by ferry. Dear friends loaned us their perennial summer cottage for a mini-vacation when they would be away, and we jumped at the offer. Who wouldn’t? A car would not be required, and bikes were available for getting around to diners and the sole market.
You think of Maine in summer, and you think cool. Temperatures would hover at 80 or above, but the nights would reach a pleasant 65 or so. The humidity would be far less than what we’ve experienced in these parts of late. Being hopeful, we packed sweaters for the evening.
With no television in the cottage — on purpose — we saw a chance to turn blissfully ignorant for a bit and collapse into the wind, the woods and the wide expanse of the sea. Books were a must, and we gathered current reads and book recommendations we’d been hoarding for some uninterrupted time. Curiously, we both packed books about the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: mine, "A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind" and the Renaissance by William Manchester and his, "The Medici" by Paul Strathern, both highly recommended by good friends with intellectual tastes.
This being the week of Georgia primary votes, it was a good week to be away so as to try to forget all that hung in the balance. Enough of the mailers, the automated phone calls, the ceaseless advertising getting ever more snarky and challenging as Election Day approached. Despite the deluge, I have felt ignorant, but not blissfully so, about this year’s slate of state candidates, even some locally. Have you ever seen so many hopefuls in pursuit of dreams or destiny? I myself have never known so little about those on the ballot, so in early voting precipitated by our trip, I left quite a number of votes not cast for candidates and races about which I knew little.
I know a few who choose consciously choose blissful ignorance when it comes to the daily news and current events. They say it’s become just too disturbing, and the world seems out of control, so they turn the TV off and cancel the newspaper subscriptions. They create their own world where they manage to maintain a semblance of control, where they can focus on just those things that make them happy and satisfied. They turn away from turmoil and the unknown, change they can’t comprehend. And I’m not talking about people 80 years old when one can be forgiven for checking out on the worries of the world and focusing on the grandchildren.
Some days I’m right there with them and figure that if I choose to be blissfully ignorant and uninvolved for that day, I’ll not be contributing to the angst that seems to mark our times. But really, was it ever any different in the history of mankind? Well, maybe on the Ozzie and Harriet show.
For some of us, getting ready for vacation, even a short one, is itself a source of angst. What’s going to fall through the cracks if I’m not here to catch it? What seemingly important phone call or e-mail will go unanswered? How many e-mails will be waiting for me on return? Whom might I have failed to notify? Who will need me and I’ll not be here? What will I fail to pack that I’ll really need?
And all that is why we really, really need to take a break once in a while. It takes a clear head to deal with life, and you can’t have a clear head unless once in a while you empty it out. The world doesn’t revolve around any one of us. We are, indeed, not essential to the sun coming up and going down.
Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics Her column appears on Fridays.