Posted: October 17, 2020
Good advice from Winston Churchill to prepare us for the aftermath of this contentious election year…
Editor's Note: My local paper carries Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, whose opinions often clash with my own, but I had to agree that the point of her recent column "After election, hobby therapy" hit the mark in this era of hostile political division. To reinforce her point without losing your attention or skewing your response before you even start reading, we'll leave off the partisan introduction, which you can read by following the link to the full column at the bottom of the page.
I'm in a book-recommending mood, so allow me, please, to explain why I am so happy to have stumbled upon Winston Churchill's "Painting as a Pastime," first published in 1948.
Most remember Churchill as Britain's prime minister during World War II, but he also won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1953. He was honored for his "mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values."
In this slim book of unnumbered pages, Churchill argues for the committed hobby, one that takes us away from our work lives. This is especially important, he writes, for those who love their work. "Indeed, it may well be that those whose work is their pleasure are those who most need the means of banishing it at intervals from their minds."
For Churchill, this was painting, which he took up in his 40s and enjoyed for the rest of his life. He started with trepidation: "My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto."
He found freedom in the pursuit of imperfection. "We must not be too ambitious," he wrote. "We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint-box. And for this Audacity is the only ticket."
Surely, not all of us will find release and solace in painting, but just as certainly, other endeavors are calling to us. Let us avoid that "silent veto." How often do we imagine exploring that thing we've always wanted to do and then deem ourselves unqualified for the adventure? If we're inclined to blame our critics for our dashed dreams, it might help to start with the censor within. I speak from long experience.
I imagine some of you who have read this far might be wondering why I'm talking about the need for hobbies so close to Election Day.
Soon, if we continue this record-setting trend of voting across America, we will see the end of this four-year nightmare we call the Trump administration. We will feel relief, maybe even joy. And then we will face a long winter of continued quarantine and isolation as we await the vaccination that will vanquish COVID-19.
Help is coming. In the meantime, we must continue to take care of one another and ourselves. How might we occupy our minds beyond the rigors of daily life?
On the fourth page of his book, Churchill quotes an unnamed American psychologist: "Worry is a spasm of the emotion; the mind catches hold of something and will not let it go."
"It is useless to argue with the mind in this condition," Churchill writes. "The stronger the will, the more futile the task. One can only gently insinuate something else into its convulsive grasp."
I'm sitting at my dining room table as I type, with a clear view of the American flag hovering over our porch stairs [a reference to her opening comments]. The wind is fierce, but the flag flaps and swirls, asserting its strength. It intrudes on my
deadline and interrupts my worry just long enough for me to imagine the steady pulse of my country.
Its heart is beating, beating, beating.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, "The Daughters of Erietown." To find out more about Connie Schultz (email@example.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at.
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