Lately I’ve felt endlessly distracted. Whether it’s the 15 books I’m trying to get through, all of the shows I’m watching, my cell phone beeping at me, the infinite news cycle, applying to grad schools, staying in touch with friends…it all adds up. And we can only do so much.
One of my favorite times of the day has recently become the short window of time between getting ready for bed and actually going to sleep. During this period of time, I’ll do some of my reading and reflect on the day. I’ve realized that part of the reason I like this time is the silence. It’s one of the only times of the day, apart from waking, when I can hear myself think. There’s no TV on, no music demanding my attention…just me and my thoughts. I’ve found that this is indeed the time that I think most clearly.
Maybe part of the reason that our stress levels are so high, that we never feel like we’re making any forward progress, is that we never stop to think and reflect anymore. This might be why I’ve returned to writing. It’s a neutral spot where I can pause and attempt to break down into words what I’m thinking. It helps me to know where I’m at mentally, and where I want to go next.
This isn’t a slam against technology or the endless entertainments that we all enjoy and take part in. I enjoy them as much as anyone. But if we never stop to catch our breath or take some time away from the distractions, we might just lose sight of who we are and what really matters. I’m also not advocating that we all become hermits and isolate ourselves from community. We need to be around other people. But I think we can all afford a few minutes or an hour to ourselves, in contemplation and reflection.
I’m going to exercise this idea by starting on a writing project very soon. It might be a short story, a play, or something else…I haven’t really decided yet. But it will be my “neutral zone”, where I can work on something I’m passionate about. I just can’t let distractions get in the way of my passions.
PS – I’m currently reading the book Poke the Box by Seth Godin. It’s an excellent book on taking the initiative in life and doing the projects that you’re passionate about. You can get a copy here: Poke the Box
PPS – I would love feedback on these posts, if you have any thoughts or ideas. I’m thinking of making the above book recommendation a regular feature…either recommending a book, a piece of music, a film, or something else that’s inspiring me lately. Let me know!