There are places we inhabit again and again and things we do again and again in a kind of dervish dance to distract ourselves from the the tempo of our lives. We do this when no one is looking. Happens all the time. How many times do you watch a five minute, or less, video? Or, like a crack addicted marmoset, cheek your phone in a frenzied feedback loop to assure yourself that you matter, feel connected, and in the know.
The result for me is a kind of intellectual tiredness. So much so that it feels often like I am literally throwing a switch so that I can engage. So I can be creative.
The problem in doing is that his I feel like I am depleting a resource that is finite. A resource that I really need. So in order to conserve, I inhabit the routine of checking in and in so doing end up checking out. And you know when your reach the checkout you have to pay for what you bought.
So I go back in to the store and argue in nanosecond narratives on places that no one will remember in 10 or 5 or even 1 year. It’s a kind of addictive distraction routine that i feel I must do in order to feel contacted to others. Bu that place is a discordant echo chamber where not one person knows how to sing in four part harmony.
You can, if you’re so inclined, turn it all off or inhabit the moment or be present or…..well you get the idea. But for me those are as false as the place I currently inhabit because they are about distracting yourself in whole new ways. It’s also a little about feeling just a smidge superior to those who don’t. So what to do?
And there it is. It’s because I feel I must be doing something of substance. Something meaningful, Something that will leave a mark or let people know I am here and would love a minute of your time to mix with a minute of my time. But who are we kidding? It isn’t even a minute. We’d be lucky to get 30 uninterrupted seconds before something else popped up and become yours and my focus.
I’m not sure we were made to inhabit this current state. I think that we came about from a much slower process than that we have today. And because of that we’ve ended up in a kind on spiritual, emotional, and material cup de sac. Going faster and faster without seeming to get anywhere, and what’s really sad is that we know this is the case but don’t have any way of doing something about it on a scale that allows us to feel all together. We’ve gotten quite a bit worse at not being able to do something about it.
Now i hear some of you saying “we need to get back to community the way it used to be. To belong to clubs and organizations so you can feel a part of it all”. But i’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. I feel this way because those places ,where in times past, we felt we could belong were an organic thing. They came out of the values of those times. Churches are a great example of this.
It used to be that most people went to church, whether you believed in God or not, because that was a place we had in common. It was a place where everyone knew where to go to and what we were supposed to do together. Today however our own cynicism in institutions precludes us from even walking in the door. Politics is another great example. It is no accident that we turn up to the polling station in fewer and fewer numbers to add our voice to the collective. Is it any wonder that this experience is so coated in cynicism, media, and disappointment that it becomes a worthless endeavour to so many of us before even the thought of casting a ballot enters our head? No . It seems a perfectly logical choice at the end of a distracted chain of events.
All of this bellyflops us into an ocean that’s a millennia wide and an inch deep.
So again what to do?
I don’t know friends. But I do know that this is grownup work and that it requires serious, serious thought and then even more serious effort. We won’t turn off the millisecond distractions of our lives but there is a growing desire for the authenticity while we continue to manufacture its very opposite. This desire feels to me like an ever-increasing rumble in our collective consciousness that we will sooner or later be forced to recognize and act on. I’m actually very confident that we will. But until then I am tired, distracted, unsure, and my creative well is in danger of running a little dry. So i’ll write this and hand it off to someone else for a little while before it’s passed back and I pass it on to someone else and it gets passed back again like some kind of communal version of a hot potato. Don’t think I am giving up here or am not optimistic for our chances. I am very optimistic and have no plans of tossing in any towels. But I am a little ragged around the edges so I hope you won’t mind me going home, sitting a spell, and maybe pull out the scissors and do a little trimming.
In the mean time have you seen this great video on…..but of course you have,