Best not to spend too long on all this

We want you to keep reading, but we also know there are times you should stop. The news is the best distraction ever invented. It sounds so serious and important. But it wants you never to be in touch with yourself again, never to have time where you can daydream, unpack your anxieties and have a conversation with your deeper self.

There are countless difficult things hiding away deep within us which we should give some thought to even though the desperate temptation is to keep clicking and looking. We need news sabbaths. We need long train journeys on which we have no wireless signal and nothing to read, where our carriage is mostly empty, where the views are expansive and where the only sounds are those made by the wheels as they click against the rails. We need plane journeys when we have a window seat and nothing else to focus on for two or three hours but the tops of clouds and our own thoughts.

We need relief from the news-fuelled impression that we are living in an age of unparalleled importance, with our wars, our debts, our riots, our missing children, our after-premiere parties, our IPOs and our rogue missiles. We need, on occasion, to be able to rise up into the air, to a place where that particular conference and this particular epidemic, that new phone and this shocking wildfire, will lose a little of their power to affect us – and where even the most intractable problems will seem to dissolve against a backdrop of the stars above us.

We should at times forego our own news in order to pick up on the far stranger, more wondrous headlines of those less eloquent species that surround us: kestrels and snow geese, spider beetles and black-faced leafhoppers, lemurs and small children – all creatures usefully uninterested in our own melodramas; counterweights to our anxieties and self-absorption.


Not on top of stockmarket news

A flourishing life requires a capacity to recognise the times when the news no longer has anything original or important to teach us; periods when we should refuse imaginative connection with strangers, when we must leave the business of governing, triumphing, failing, creating or killing to others, in the knowledge that we have our own objectives to honour in the brief time still allotted to us.