my feet in the sand

Biscoitos swimming hole, 2011
Biscoitos swimming hole, 2011

I am not proud to say this, but ignorance can be bliss—and I sort of live there.  I’m here on this tiny beautiful island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

While absorbed in my day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget the tumultuous issues facing my country and ultimately the world.  I wake up to my adorable dogs snuggling up against me.  I sit on the counter and drink my coffee.  Through my kitchen window I look over cornfields, grazing cows and an endless expanse of water.  I can’t explain why, but I am always left with a feeling of complete calm any time I watch the ocean.  


I love my little greyhound-monster
I love my little greyhound-monster

The majority of my news-related information I get either from sources online or from the Daily Show.  Granted, I know the Daily Show is not intended to be a news source.  However, it seems the only why I can tolerate receiving major news headlines is with the delightful sarcasm and witty criticism similar that of my mind’s own intellectual response (although, my mind is certainly not as witty as the Daily Show writers).  I don’t feel inclined to reiterate the various depressing aspects of mess in which we all seem to find ourselves.  We all know economically, politically and environmentally things look rather bleak.

...the beauty of what has been left behind.  24in x 24in, mixed media collage, 2013
…the beauty of what has been left behind • 24 in x 24 in • mixed media • Carly Swenson • 2013

I suppose, that leads me to my point–I’m ashamed to admit that unless I’m curious about a specific topic, I don’t go out of my way to remain informed on current events.  Intellectually, I think it’s wrong to place myself in this sort of ignorance is bliss bubble; as a compassionate human, it’s important for me to understand the goings on of my country and internationally.  However, emotionally, this knowledge tends to take a tremendous toll on my mind and well-being.  I have always been an exceedingly sensitive person.  I view this characteristic as a blessing and a curse.  I’m blessed, because this intense compassion and sensitivity to others allows me to be very nurturing and understanding as I empathize with others.  However, this sensitivity can become nearly debilitating when my mind gets lost in the atrocities of the world.  In my early twenties, I used to find myself curled in the fetal position on my bedroom floor.   Tears streaming uncontrollably down my face, as my mind raced over how desperate life felt. I just had this huge weight of sadness and helplessness all around me that I didn’t really know how to get past. The scene would occur every few months after learning of another horrific event or human cruelty somewhere in the world–that would just catch me at a moment when I was already emotionally fragile.

Drink Me (page 1), 6"x6" visual journal page, 2011
Drink Me (page 1) • 6 in x 6 in • visual journal page • 2011

Logistically, I knew this response was not beneficial to me—or anyone else.  But I seemed unable to process intensely negative information in a conventional manner that would allow me to continue to function like a normal human.  I’ve struggled with diagnosed depression for over 7 years now.  I know I’m unable do to anything to improve political turmoil, and the global economy, civil right violations in other countries (and absurdly little I can do to implement environmental change). Concerns and negativity will then continually grow in my mind until they consume almost every thought—leaving me with a nagging sense of pointless in my daily life.  Sometimes, I’m fairly inept at compartmentalizing this information to allow me to remain a positive, hopeful and productive person.  My head is usually torn between the beautiful contentedness I find all around me in my daily life and the upheaval that exists in the world beyond this little island.

Little DocMo, 2013
Little DocMo, 2013

Therefore, I often find myself here, with my toes buried in a the soft sand, sun warming my skin, a light breeze causing the waves to gently break against the shore—a beautiful sound that is nearly hypnotic.  I ignore the troubles of the world and focus on this moment of peace.  I want to remain here, to keep my hope in humanity.  I maintain my own sanity as I hide myself away by shoreline.




10 Replies to “my feet in the sand”

  1. Soup and Dr Buttons is a great picture! It would be great to see Freya curled up on top of them too!! I miss that crazy cat! I don’t keep up with world events either, its just nicer not knowing about all the crazy political, economical stuff going on – it’s just depressing! I get what I need to know and the broadstrokes on the internet but you wont catch me reading the CNN scrawl! Wish we could join you in the sun!


  2. Beautifully written Carly! I, too, feel anguish when I hear horrific stories on the news or wonder about the state of our world. I used to be half-addicted to the news a few years back, feeling like I wasn’t a good member of society if I didn’t know every detail of what was going on. It’s not ignorant bliss, its taking care of yourself, doing what you can and living life outside a stagnant energy thrown at us from a box! In return, you are able to inspire us with your watercolors! They are beautiful!


    1. Part of my husband’s morning routine is watching the news. I think it is good to stay informed, but it can be so disheartening. Thank you for your comment and the kind words about my work. I like your perspective. “Stagnant energy thrown at us,” very well-put.


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