I’ve been gone for a month now (from my blog, and from Facebook), and it feels good to be back. It started with a podcast:
In this episode, I talk with writer, designer and technologist Craig Mod — who’s done numerous experiments in reclaiming his attention — about how we can break out of this toxic cycle of smartphone and social media addiction and regain control of our powers of concentration.
Before listening to that episode, I told myself, this sounds good, but I don’t need it. I was content with the volume that I was surrounded with, or at least I thought. I was numb to the loudness. And then I pressed play on that particular podcast. 20 minutes later, I was already planning my upcoming month. It was time for a break. It felt right to get rid of a few things for awhile. Here comes the blackout.
The first few days, without the instant gratification, I felt down, and I felt alone. It took me over 48 hours to adjust to the silence, but once I did, I had a different kind of peace. After a few days, things were different for me. I enjoyed this change of pace. Everything slowed down for a bit. I would hear friends talking about a problem that was popular on Facebook that day, and I was amused by how small it actually was compared to the big picture. It’s all noise, I thought to myself. That noise doesn’t bother everyone, but it bothers me, and I have to continue to be intentional about separating myself from it.
Finding ways to add white space to my days is one the most important things I should I focus on going forward. I don’t want to bounce around from one distraction to the next. I don’t want to contribute to the noise. I want to silence the noise, while still taking advantage of its value. Finding the right volume for the internet appears to be a daily practice that I’ll continue to live with. There needs to be a balance. This was the second year I took November off, and both times felt really weird. There was so many things I wanted to say, but couldn’t. And now I can. But it doesn’t mean I need to say everything1. Only what’s important.
I anticipated the return to my website, as if it’s a physical shop that I own, as if it’s a grand return. After all, this place is important to me. I never take it for granted, but during those moments when I step away for awhile, I return appreciating the outlet more than ever. It’s what keeps me stable. It gives me a voice that I would otherwise not have. It allows me to express myself with freedom. I look forward to what’s next, while still understanding that what I have is enough.
I read books while I was away. I imagined what the next year would be like for me and my writing. I rested. I watched a lot of Netflix. I took my brother to the library. I took my sister shopping. I spent time with my uncles that I haven’t seen in years. I spent Thanksgiving with everyone that I love. I went for walks. I watched the Rockets win a bunch of games. I hurt my back, and spent a lot of time healing it. I ate a lot of food. I didn’t exercise. I slept later than usual. And then, the last week of the month arrived, and I started waking up early again, and writing, and playing basketball, and donating anything that I didn’t need, to help a friend, and to get back to minimalism.↩
Every month is a blank canvas