Somehow it is well into 2018 already. February will be over before we know it, and I finally feel better, almost like myself again. I wonder where the fall and early winter went, or where I was for them. I am glad to be here now. It feels a little like waking up from a dream, the scary or depressing kind that you are ready to leave behind. The issues that came to light during my illness haven’t just gone away, so I must be diligent about continue to look at them: the need to be in control, to ask for and accept support, to be viewed as competent and in the know, the constant push to do more and be more. Maybe it helps just to have clarified the issues and to have called them out. The work is not done, but perhaps there is a bit of a path now.
Skiing and walking outside these past few weeks, now that I feel up to it, has been a reminder that I am most content when being present with myself, others, and the natural things of the world. Moving through a snowy and quiet forest, tromping with my daughter around a blindingly white lake, following a deer path along an icy ridge-line, all while breathing in the cold and clear air — these things are what is real and what matters. It’s not the photo I take or the likes that it gets on instagram, or the new followers that it entices to join the crowd. It’s the actual experience. This is obvious, but I think it’s easy for us to forget that in this social media driven culture that we have found ourselves fully invested in. I need to check myself regularly – it’s so easy to get sucked into the allure of virtual validation.
I read a blog post recently by David Cain of Raptitude, and in it he wrote of his desire to put the internet in the basement; how he’s reached “peak internet” for himself. Ironically, the basement is where the little router box that provides our wifi lives in our house. But, as it is most places, the internet is pervasive. It seems to be able to find its way into every nook and cranny. Its allure is addicting, and I don’t like how it seems to dictate what I do and how I spend my time.
I am old enough to remember the days when the internet was still a destination – something you had to either go to (i.e. the library) to or wait for (i.e. dial-up). It was annoying at the time, and having to do that now is almost unthinkable. But the distance was also freeing, I think. There are about a zillion memes that say something like “offline is the new luxury,” and perhaps that’s the truth, at least for middle class people. Of course, the rise of internet technology has provided more opportunities for communication, the globalization of our communities, and connection to more options than ever before, and those things offer a sense of “freedom” as well: To do or connect with whatever you want. But doesn’t it also keep us captive to the quest to always be searching? To always be on the hunt for our ‘tribe’ or our most well-suited hobbies or our dream vocation or the healthiest and most super of foods? I think that sort of “freedom” robs us (when we let it..which is way too easy to do) of focusing on what is right in front of our faces. What if we focused on getting what we needed, whether it be community or hobbies or jobs or entertainment or food, from the ten to twenty miles around our homes?
I read another article recently by a gentleman who was at the forefront of the internet movement back in the early 90s. He posed the question, “What if we weren’t made to exist in global communities?” What if we really did keep the internet in the basement, only to take it out when truly needed or on special occasions? I remember that world, and even though my current employment and projects literally depend on the easy access to the internet, I miss parts of it.
All of this to say, my health and wellbeing depends on fostering the right balance of analog and digital in this digital focused world. In her book Gift of the Red Bird, Paula D’arcy writes, “Who has my life belonged to?”
This is a question we could all do well to ask on a regular basis. I will be asking myself this over and over again, because staying present and aware in the age of the internet must be a daily practice. And I will follow it up with “What do I want to give my life to?” and really listen to the answers.
Anyone want to join me?