Cutting through the Noise

Tomorrow it will be five weeks since I left Facebook.

I’m still alive.

I barely recognize myself.

My cage of choice is much smaller than the previous version. But now the decor is more to my taste, and I am in full control of who I choose to allow to occupy it with me. If I haven’t expressly invited you, then please, by all means, request entry, so long as you come prepared to hold up your end of our connection. I have all the ingredients to make cookies, and if you want to eat them, you’ll need to come bake them with me. I’m not feeding you.

I’m afraid that I’ve become a boring person. Will my loved ones still be so drawn to me without my former DO energy, or will they lose patience, having fallen in love with my previous incarnation and disappointed by this new, slow-as-molasses (relative to myself) version?

My life feels downright hamster-wheelish most of the time, full of rote tasks I simply will no longer tackle with any gusto, if at all. Feeding people, feeding myself, laundry, keeping track of snowpants and mittens, holding space for a teen in crisis, going to bed, dreaming, waking up…rinse and repeat. Somedays, it’s all I can do to drag myself out of bed in the morning, because if I skip a day, so what? The checklist will still be there tomorrow.

On the weeks that my kids are at their dad’s, even with no one to actively take care of, and with a beautiful soul stepping in from time to time to take care of me, I slide into the torpor that has been characterizing the last few weeks. I would have thought that all this space I’ve cultivated because of my choice to leave social media would have resulted in all this time and energy to DO. Instead, I’m called to stop, to sit, to read, to be still, to listen to this need to narrow my gaze and complete my thoughts. When I left Facebook, I vowed to no longer spew unfinished thoughts into the universe. I think things, and they stay in my head, and that’s all that happens. I’m not heard, I’m not seen, because I’m not speaking, and I’m not showing myself, until such time as I know I’ve completed my thought. Like now.

I read a piece recently on a condition known as acedia. Acedia, historically, has referred to a kind of spiritual sloth, and which is sometimes confused with depression. I’m not depressed. At all. I’d go so far as to say that more often than not, I feel happy. I’m simply here, in the now,  and the now, as it currently appears, threatens to stretch into perpetuity, so I can find no good reason to fold the mountain of laundry today. It’s still going to be there tomorrow. I pledged not to take on any new projects until at least the spring, choosing, instead, to invest in chewing and swallowing that which I have already bitten off. There is no NEW. I have let go of my addiction to immediate gratification. I am no longer dependent on the flash-in-the-pan dopamine hit of ACCOMPLISHMENT. I am learning to hunker down and trust that the payoff for my efforts and investment will only pan out, if at all, in the long run. Anyways, it’s no longer even the payoff I’m attached to – it’s the lessons learned on the path. They come out of the blue now and the side of my face is figuratively bruised from slamming into them. I’ve traded in a lot of what validates me in the eyes of our culture for the gift of silence in my head, and it may come at a price. Or it won’t. I’ll let you know.

Note that all that DO energy takes you away from the now. That’s one things I’ve learned. The DO energy is a distraction from the reality of the now. And though the now is about the moments worth noting, it is also boring as fuck, because there’s no promise to them, no continuity, no future. Tomorrow is stimulating and addictive. Now do you get why so many people simply cannot be in the present? The human mind LOVES promise and potential, and it seems to need to know that something better is coming, something more exciting, more meaningful, deeper, lighter, bigger, smaller. And now is simply where we are, full stop. Try to hold both ideas in your head and see how much they challenge you. The future will happen no matter how much you try to prevent or control it, and how much peace are you missing out on because you’re so intent on that which has yet to happen?

It’s cool how stuff comes into focus when you’re not actively trying to see it. I accidentally stumbled on some peace. Huh.

I find myself in uncharted territory. I trust in tomorrow. I trust in the promise. But I no longer have to use force of will to make it happen. I have surrendered to the most gratifying flow.

Who am I without all the noise around me? Who am I without ongoing external validation, secure partnership, or a 24/7 crown of thorns called motherhood? How do I justify my own, individual existence? How do I find validation? How do I even know that I exist? And how am I such a product of this individualistic, separate society of ours that I find myself spending SO much time thinking about something as self-serving as my own value?

That last question was rhetorical. Don’t answer it.

So who and what am I now, without social media, without constantly being plugged in, connected, controlled?

So far, what I know is that I am someone who CAN be alone with her own thoughts. I’ve always thought a lot, and a lot of my thoughts have served me in spectacular ways. My mind is still well-organized and not as badly affected by 15+ years of online social media as I thought. I have quickly become intolerant of the scattered brain condition brought on by the addiction to and the illusion caused by social media. Yesterday, I was “on” Facebook through my business partner’s account for a few moments to admin a business event, and became acutely aware of how violated I felt, how my attention resumed it’s old pattern of flitting from one input source to another, searching, seeking, searching, seeking for stimulation and distraction and oblivion.

I do not crave solitude, but I love the anonymity of the crowd, and when the lethargy takes over, I seek out the crush of bodies I don’t have to interact with, the choice to use the travel time to read, to listen, to watch, to immerse myself in the collective energy without being responsible for it, or implicated in it. I can step into the stream and drift and I won’t get lost. Rather, I’ll find myself somewhere unexpected, or, more often than not, still on my own, cultivated path.

I am relinquishing my death grip, bit by bit, examining the ideals I’ve clung to so tightly for so long, because I didn’t know that I could let go, that I’d still be okay. Now I know. Because I’m here, and I am okay.

I am so much more capable of offering love on other people’s terms rather than my own than I ever thought possible. My attachment style is insecure, at best, and the last 18 months of ending my 20 year marriage, coupled with a non-traditional relationship with someone who consistently questions their own value and worth have allowed me to learn to ask for what I need, and expect to receive it.

I can listen to my children without having to solutionize for them. They are capable individuals, with their own tool belts and problem solving ability, and though it may not look like my own, I know they will all find their way. My job right now is to see them, and to hear them, not ONLY the other way around.

I can hold my tongue. I can wait to get a point across. I can postpone a conversation. I don’t even have to have all the conversations. I can choose to only have the ones truly worth having. I don’t need to be heard AT THIS VERY MINUTE. I can sit with an uncomfortable thought and question it rather than succumb to it. And the more I can do this, the lest reactive I will become. I am cultivating responsiveness. And presence.

I am a reader. That I’ve always known. But now I remember I am a reader who can complete a book in days, instead of months or years, because I cut through the noise I thought I was a victim of, and I put it on mute, indefinitely. I can lose myself in a fictional story because my own story will always be there to return to when I need to. I don’t have to write it all NOW. It can wait. There’s no urgency.

It’s quiet now, most days. I appreciate the quiet because the days that are now are SO loud, but that’s because I no longer need to live in a state of chronic hyperbole, and can use my tools to distinguish because actual and fabricated, safe-making crisis.

I am still me is who I am. I am here, and I am now, seeing, for the first time, the series of moments that constitute this gift of a life. And I’m happy to sit with you and drink the coffee, but now you’ve got to come and ring my doorbell.

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