I have a bad case of ?newspaper withdrawal.? What?s that, you ask? My newspaper no longer shows up at my door in the morning. No! No! It?s not what you think. I am not in arrears. I always pay my bills promptly. Automatically, through the bank. The fact is, I voluntarily suspended my subscription. Not for any masochistic or even money saving reasons. I simply felt that because I was in between traveling trips, I didn?t need the bother of renewing and canceling, for such a relatively short time. I can always go out and pick up a paper at the street corner when I feel like it. What I didn?t bargain for was the deep sense of injury that this decision would inflict on my psyche.
Deprivation taunted me that first morning when I staggered to the front door, reached for the reassuring presence of the newspaper, and found nothing there! In my travel-battered state, I questioned whether I was real. Where was I? Did I get lost somewhere on my way home? Someplace where there were no newspapers? Slowly, it dawned on me that I had deliberately done this to myself, not realizing how hooked I was on the paper for my morning fix!
How do I start the day? My newspaper seemed to be the key that opened up my morning routine. Getting through breakfast without the smell of ink on paper, the unwrinkled feel of a brand new edition, the urgent appeal of the bold headline, was overwhelming. The umbilical cord that connected me with the rest of the world was now cruelly severed, and I was floating somewhere in oblivion. Left to deal with the mindless act of eating without reports of crime and mayhem and political machinations to add flavor to whatever it was that found its way into my stomach.
The necessary ritual of breakfast. For me, this was an automatic event, a robot-like activity, something hardly worth thinking about. How could such a mundane occupation compare to the noble pastime of communing with fellow-citizens? point-of-views, editorial comments, hard luck stories, the gyrations of the stock-market? And the lure of the crossword puzzle, the Sudoku challenge, the brain teasers? Where is the inspiration in simply spooning cereal into your mouth?
But some stubborn streak prevented me from capitulating and running to the telephone to reconnect my subscription. This was a new experience. I had to see how much torture I could endure.
As the mornings passed with much disorientation, the various actions involved in preparing breakfast began to make gentle overtures to my fog-ridden mind. I heard the kettle whistling ? a strange whining noise, but companionable, all the same. The kitchen faucet splashed into the sink with vigor and determination. A glass of water sparkled and felt cool and refreshing as I drank. Hot steam rose up into my face as I brewed my morning concoction. There were smells ? faint at first, but growing definite as the days went by. Woody fragrance of tea, crisp brown smell of bran flakes. Unacknowledged shapes and colors ? the yellow curve of a banana, the round purple of blue-berries ? began to create friendly impressions on my brain. And I actually became aware of what I was doing. The sitting down to the table. The burst of flavor on my tongue. The chewing. The swallowing. Like new discoveries in old familiarities.
Slowly, my senses returned. I began paying attention, appreciating the pleasure of food, a blessing which I had chosen to ignore for so many years!
I still pine for my morning newspaper. But I no longer feel deprived and disoriented. I am now more aware of the small things around me as I wake up. I notice the pattern of sunlight filtering through the curtains, I hear the hum of the refrigerator, and the stale smell of garbage reminds me that I am being remiss. In the background, the radio fills my space with quiet music, interspersed now and then with the cheerful voice of the announcer. My mornings have taken on a whole new perspective. Perhaps I really don?t need a newspaper subscription after all.
Lytrice writes for Bonzer magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au