Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down …

The world is a fucked up place.

It’s all killings here and shootings there. College rapes often headline the nightly news over political strife while mindless celebrity gossip floods every sense until we lose grasp over our own reality. What we’re fed is the garbage of the world, tightly rolled into an illusion of importance. The news, basically, sucks.

And being in a semi-connected industry, where we kind of have to pay close attention to what’s going on, as a writer, I tend to get overloaded with the bullshit. Often it becomes a tightening force, altering what it is I think about the horizons outside, while struggling to figure out how it makes me feel inside. The negativity breeds a very bleak outlook on life.

So I’ve got to get away. Sometimes it’s for a few minutes, walking around the office complex with a stiff drink or finely rolled joint. Other times, it’s for the weekend, jet-setting to Vegas to drench my gray matter in cheap vodka pineapples and Fireball shots. But it only does so much. It can only do so much.

The only real way to get out of the cycle of suck is to literally get away from it, to put your mind elsewhere. So I tried that for an entire day: I spent 24 hours away from the news, completely disconnected from my phone by association.

The birds sang louder

It was no news day, finally. I rolled over towards my phone charger like I normally do, except this time a bright and jovial bluebird was waiting for me at the windowsill.

“Good morning Brian, I’m Charles, a slight hallucination of yours,” it sang.

“S'up,” my voice irked out with an unusually soft tone.

“You’re going to do wonderful today,“ the bird replied in a strange and inconsistent accent.

“Thaaaanks,” was my only response, thumb pressed to the air like a Japanese tourist.

Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down …

The healing began

Without one hand holding my phone, scrolling through feeds while pouring over headlines, I couldn’t find any other use for it. It just numbed there, on the table, next to my bowl of cereal where it normally sits. But this time, it had a strange twitch — like the muscles inside of it weren’t being fed normal instructions. It started to get painful, like when you sit on the toilet for too long and your legs begin to die. Pins. Needles.

It was my body crying out for normalcy. My left-hand needed to be more than a repetitive extension of the Internet. If I didn’t move it, I’d certainly lose it. So I picked up my coffee and began teaching it to move towards my mouth. Slowly it obliged, shaky, but true.

I had two hands again. My day was ready to begin …

The people rejoiced

Getting away from the office, I chose a destination that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Downtown was always crawling with exciting things before I became locked in the throws of an electronic world, so I’d hoped it would be the same now.

To my amazement, there were real people on the streets. Walking. Looking. Breathing. And not one of them was accusing someone else of being racist or randomly jumping into an argument for no reason. I even got a smile from one of the cashiers behind the counter before I ordered a shake. Upturned lips to show mutual awareness — what a novel concept.

It felt so good I went around the entire length of the mall holding doors open for strangers and moving over in my stride for those with unsteady walks. A man in a Detroit sports jersey even asked me about the weather, not once insulting me for wrongly implying it was a Thursday, just correcting the mistake and knuckle-dabbing me for knowing who his favorite artist was.

I was Julie Andrews, whisping around the street like an intoxicated maniac. The sun was warm, the air was crisp — a cliché storybook setting. I’d wandered around so long time lost all meaning. When it got past 5, the usual clock-out hour, I had no real desire to get back home or leave my new emotional breakroom.

Life was free …

The hangover

I went to bed calm, but ramping in anxiety, secretly hoping the fake bluebird would be back to tell me everything would be okay. But I knew it wouldn’t be. Tomorrow it was back to reading the news, back to the exploits of media — no better than an SD card plugged into the mainframe. In a few hours, I’d be fed again. Uncomfortably full.

And I got back to having a shitty attitude about things, about feeling unsafe, shaking my head and rolling my eyes.

Because that’s the news. It’s there, it’s toxic.

Maybe one day we’ll all see that and give it a break. There’s a lot out there if we give it a try.

Chase your imagination.