I’ve been reading a lot more since I returned from the Divide. Books, comic books, long form opinion.
Winter and an annoying injury took hold and I’ve had less time on my feet and wheels to let them recover, but more time to exercise my brain. I’ve never come to March with so little miles in my legs. It was strange to take up the outward appearance of being normal. Using the train daily. Going to meetings. Interacting with others. Generally looking less like a starved addict who needs another hit – although it was far from the truth I suppose. Exercise is a little addictive if undertaken correctly. Strange to do this, but beneficial in other ways.
I’ve spent more time with a camera in my hands than any time in the past 10 years. It’s been educational.
Reading gives me something to help blot out the noise of other people as we creep along the train line to the city. Early mornings for me are quiet time. Not many words spoken. Few fast actions. Movement is slow but with purpose. I don’t like to start my day off rushed. I don’t like to step out of prepared routine. It’s my one time of the day to be 100% in control. I’m cherishing this while I can. Soon it will no longer be possible. I’m OK with that. A little noise is not a bad thing. But sometimes it’s not enough. The noise gets through and there is nothing I can do except escape. For once, I couldn’t escape into the wild as much as my brain needed. So back where I started it. In words.
There are always escape routes. Always something better out there once you go looking for it and put some effort in to finding it. Always a better way to approach reading. Photography. Writing. Life. Cycling. Running. You chose your own metaphor. Always better light to come. Words to read. Locations. You just need to be in the right place to see it. Experience it.
For me, reading has been a life long companion. Longer than I can remember. I like to read. I like to enjoy what I read. I dislike reading what I don’t enjoy. This year has been full of uncomfortable things to read. The USA. Europe. Asia. The whole world is seething with hate for others and festering with hate for itself. I can’t say it doesn’t get me down. It does. But the good thing about reading?
You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. I don’t read shit books. If I think it’s bad, I pass it on, leave it in a cafe for someone else. Give it to a charity shop so they can make some money. I don’t need that clutter, the feeling of needing to finish it, hanging over me. If I don’t like it, discard it. Move on. Find some thing better. Someone else will undoubtedly enjoy what I deem shit. And that is OK, other people have their own opinions.
No shit books. No shit beer. No shit people. No shit opinions. Just choice and acceptance of the choice you made.
If I want this thing to be successful — what ever the thing is — I must blind myself to the diversions that compete for attention, and bleed away energy. Mark Twight – Reconciled.
I sat and thought on Marks words for a while after I’d read them.
- What is the thing that I want to be successful?
- What diversions compete for my attention?
- What bleeds away my energy?
The first one is easy – my family and my ability to spend time in the outdoors doing what I love, and helping those who want or need help. I don’t care about things that people want me to care about. I am selfish to those that fit in my tiny world-form and I am proud of that. They are the people I care about. People I want to spend time with. Places I want to spend time in. I’m willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve this.
The second one complicated – time online, screen time (TV, computer, phone), social media, work, other people, communities. Some of these have benefits, others not so much. I’ve already reduced these to a sub-normal level by modern consumption levels. I intend to reduce them more over the coming weeks. Over the coming years, I plan to reduce others to an acceptable level do achieve part 1 without distraction.
The third one – while similar to the second is the more insipid one. I rephrase it as, what damages me that I no longer need? I’ve done my best to remove all of the toxic relationships from my life. The people I do not need to associate with. I pull the trigger on blocking whenever I find someone I dislike on social media. Conformation bias, I have lots, and I’m OK with that. I’ve made it policy to read from reputable sources, left and right, but sources – not opinion sites.
Where does that leave me? I don’t know. I just know that it won’t be here. I know who it will involve. I’m looking forward to meeting others it will involve. I’m eager to see the places it will involve. I’m ready to leave the things, people and places behind that it won’t involve. In order of what will be reduced:
- Social media – I only use Twitter and Instagram – I’ll be removing one for a month. I’ll be writing here instead.
- Screen time – I work with a computer, so I can’t avoid that. But, I can avoid using my phone and tablet. I already keep both off between 2200 and 0900. I may extend this.
- Communities – I’ve left several online communities. I only really exist in one these days. I’m working on existing in more offline communities – namely my local SAR one.
- People – I limit who I interact with already. Tightly. Oddly, I’ll be working to expand this.
First few changes. Let them sink in. I will go from there.