Artist: Dee Nickerson
So much electronic information comes at us daily, it is possible to be distracted from the moment we wake up to the moment our head hits the pillow at night.
Distraction has been at the forefront of my life for years. I have a desktop, a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone. I used a flip phone long after everyone else was watching videos and sending texts on their mobiles. I fought the good fight, but I lost. I’m as addicted as anyone to immediacy.
What I sensed early on (and ignored) was that I was no longer carrying a notebook with me, and I was no longer writing poems. I had gone from being a creator to a consumer of information. My originality was co-opted by my dependency on quick news, YouTube and Masterpiece Mysteries.
This distractibility isn’t anything unique to me, most of us have come up against immediate gratification in the form of electronics. As our computers become necessary to pay bills, communicate with friends, and to do business, the place where we end and they begin has become blurred. Much like a co-dependent relationship, it’s not healthy. This lack of healthy boundaries brings up a need for strong resolve.
Since I was five, I've known a simple truth: If I am to be happy, I require tons of daydreaming space. Time to ponder. Time to reflect. Time to sit on a swing or under a tree and imagine. And this has been taken from me, from us. Most importantly, it has been taken from our children. This daydreaming space is exactly what I intend to take back.
It is late November, not January when we are forced to look more deeply into our flaws. I choose November as my jump-start month. The month when we realize winter is really coming. November when the saddest of poems is written, when our losses feel insurmountable. November when the sky darkens too early, when we hunker down with a fleece blanket, and when even our family togetherness has a wistful sort of feel.
November from here on out is not a month to give to or to give up on, but to begin again. This is my simple November plan to reinvent myself outside the world of electronics. I can’t say I’ll be 100% successful, I never am, but I am determined this time to make it stick.
1 Two hours tops online. (This does not include research or business responsibilities.)
2 One hour of prayer, meditation and/or daydreaming.
3 Creativity gets four hours. Creativity for me means walks, hikes, painting the walls, writing, and creating art. And time spent with dogs and children. Creativity to you may mean writing a book or completing an aria, dancing or identifying birds.
4 Carry a notebook, preferably a red one, wherever I go.
In the past I have made detailed January instructions-to-self that I could not possibly obey. This time I have dumbed-it-down, made it simple for myself. Will you join me? We can meet up next November and compare notes on how less electronics gave us more time to daydream, to create what only we can create, and to be present to the moment with fewer distractions.
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though; there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. To quote Margaret J. Wheatley, '"Hopelessness has surprised me with patience."