Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hanging on... letting go

I took a mindful walk through downtown La Jolla this morning.  It was my version of a meditative exercise that’s supposed to smooth your soul and clear your mind.  Here’s how it’s done: you put one foot in front of the other in the usual way of walking while you notice what's around you. 

First you notice.  And then you let it go.
Notice…and let it go. 

These are some of the things I noticed on my mindful walk:
    •    marred and scarred sidewalks; cracked and fissured streets (the touted La Jolla Village patina?)
    •    cheerful tourists snapping photos of one another and guessing the name of those lavender-blooming trees (jacaranda)
    •    scores of cormorants, pelicans, and raucous sea lions lolling, diving, swimming, and engaged in uninhibited large-bowel activity on the LJ Cove bluffs, in flip-off contempt of microbial scrubdown experiments
    •    June gloom
    •    signage announcing a new-to-the-neighborhood Goodwill resale shop just a few storefronts down from Roche Bobois
    •    a surge of remodels and dense multi-family construction
    •    dozens of homeless men and women, some on benches, some hauling loaded carts in the direction of the Vons recycling depot

 I also noticed that the noticing part of a mindful walk is easy.  The letting go part is another story.  And I’ve noticed that it’s not just me who has trouble letting go.

Take the U-T San Diego, for example.  I’ve noticed that since Bob Filner became mayor the people at the U-T started acting act like crazed dogs, compulsively gnawing at old bones and obsessing about the mayor’s personality quirks.  They publish half-stories that omit core information a reader needs to get a full picture.  Their editor tears his hair out
when balanced articles about the mayor appear in other newspapers. It's true the U-T knows how to let go -- but perversely they're letting go of experienced, credible news staff.

Equally discouraging is the self-inflicted decline of a once-exciting experiment in online local coverage, the Voice of San Diego.  They seem to be in direct competition with the U-T for the journalism silliness prize.  Reporting excellence has given way to petulance, splitting-hairs, and skewed facts.  Integrity has shrunk to make room for fluff.   VOSD was once a cause for optimism.  No longer.  They, too, have been letting go of the wrong things.

And sadly -- instead of just letting go and going away, they're baaaack.  The 2014 political season has been launched with a familiar set of candidates whose battle cry is: WE'LL NEVER-LET-GO-OF-THE-STATUS-QUO!

Carl DeMaio, for example, has once again donned his freedom-fighter suit in a grab for the U.S. Congress seat recently won by Scott Peters.  Mr. DeMaio has no intention of letting go of his freedom crusade: freedom from taxes… freedom from government…  freedom from conscience… freedom from truth.  Watch out for this guy -- he’s got direct access to extravagant resources from mega-wealthy conservative contributors like the Koch brothers and Doug Manchester.

Nathan Fletcher, another political robot, has his own style of betraying the public trust -- he actively practices letting go!  Did you notice his effortless glide from Republican to Independent to Democrat within short three years?  And how completely he whited-out his history as a pampered staffer for the blatantly-corrupt Duke Cunningham?  And how you can’t figure out what (if any) his core principles are?  Mr. Fletcher is a facile multi-party triathlete, highly gifted at carrying water for San Diego’s old-guard (on both sides of the political aisle).  He's their annointed tool for knocking the mayor’s chair out from under Bob Filner.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, I’ve noticed, is doing his darndest to stay in the limelight.  He's kinda out of his mind to believe anyone else thinks he’s mayoral material but no matter -- his peculiar compulsion to publicly chastise, belittle, and subvert Mayor Filner in newspaper op-eds, city council chambers, news conferences, and television chats (I haven’t checked Twitter) looks a lot like grounds for his removal from office.  Now I'm not a lawyer, but even I have noticed a lack of professional ethics and expertise from this city attorney.  If he’s listening -- and if it’s not already too late – my suggestion to him would be: cease, desist, let it go, and exit quickly.

Todd Gloria, another practiced, unprincipled striver, hides his overweening proclivities beneath a thick mask of boyish charm.  Instead of creating a constructive working alliance with our city’s first strong, independent, forward-looking mayor, councilman Gloria has chosen to suckle at the bosom of downtown establishment heavyweights and deep-pocketed power brokers.  Disarming smile notwithstanding, he’s been known to distort and manipulate neighborhood planning documents and bully city workers and appointees.  Mr. Gloria’s reputation and dream of riding his star nonstop to Congress might be enhanced if he took a mindful walk and figured out how to let go -- of betrayal and duplicity (kittenish talk about sexy streets, too).

Unfortunately, there are other poltergeists stashed away in well-paying holding pens, awaiting their turn to reenter the fray.  There’s Tony Young, who took the we’ll never let go of the status quo oath long before he deserted his city council district for a cushy timeout with the Red Cross.  There’s former mayor Jerry Sanders, currently nestled in the boardroom of the Chamber of Commerce and constitutionally unable to stand on his own feet should he ever let go of the status quo.  And it won't be long before the aforementioned Todd Gloria is given temporary cozy shelter by one of San Diego's other magnanimous, do-good, lucrative non-profits.
The moral of this story?  A mindful walk every now and then can sometimes work wonders.  But even if you don't want to budge from your chair, making wise decisions about what to hang on to and what to let go of can also work wonders.  

Here's my recommendation: do everything in your power to hang on to Mayor Filner.  While I’ve noticed that Mr. Filner is not perfect, I’ve also noticed that he brings us a rare opportunity to work wonders in our city.   

Be mindful... notice our very first, first-class mayor... and don't let him go.