Why I Write

Hi. I’m back. I could start this post with a promise that I will post regularly on here from now on – for real this time. But I’ve recently learned that promises are really tricky little things. They’re tricky because we constantly evolve and the world around us constantly changes. Promises are intentions, most often good ones. Intentions can change as life changes and as people evolve. So I’m not promising anything this time. Something, some voice recently prompted me to bring bring this blog back to life and give it a small cosmetic overhaul. And it made me ask myself “Why do I write?” I don’t get paid for it, I don’t have any stake in it (family tradition, education, etc.), I don’t necessarily have too much free time on my hands. There really is no external motivation for it. So what’s the internal one then? Well, for starters, I have a lot of words in my head but I’m not a big talker so they don’t come out that way. I feel much more eloquent when I write than when I talk.

Something about the act of writing makes me connect with my emotions. I’ve recently learned (among many other life lessons) that I haven’t been great at being in touch with my emotions for the first 33 years of my life, especially not with the negative ones. What I have mastered quite well is telling myself stories about my emotions. That usually works until they boil over. And even then I’m often able to somehow put the lid back on. I might burn my hands in the process but I get them back under control. Earlier this year, I decided to not put the lid back on and it has lead to the biggest crisis of my life. That crisis is a story for another day – a story I’m not really ready to tell yet. The crisis has been big enough to ask myself tough, existential questions. The type of shit that the Greek philosophers grappled with thousands of years ago. I’ve learned a lot about myself and some of the revelations have happened while writing. So that’s why I write – to connect with my essence, the stripped down version of myself that has nothing to do with where I live, what I do for work, what I like to eat, and who my friends and family are. The version of myself that I have to love if I want to be happy in this life. And in order to really love that version, love myself, I have to see all the sides of it and writing helps me do it. Maybe the energy, the waves, that I’m sending out into the universe by publishing my words will be picked up by another stripped down version of another human being whose receiver happens to be set to the same frequency as my sender. And that’s when magic happens.

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Scroll No More – Days 16 – 25

When I started this, I thought slip ups would be less frequent towards the end of this detox. You know what’s coming – I was wrong. In the last ten days I found myself gravitating back towards Facebook and Instagram. Without getting to deep into psychoanalyzing myself, I think this is what’s happening:

(A) I have FOMO (fear of missing out for those of you not fluent in millennial internet lingo). My FOMO manifests itself in being afraid of missing major announcements of my social media friends (pregnancies, moves, new jobs, new pets, engagements, etc. This fear is of course, as are most fears, quite irrational. If someone really needs and/or wants to keep me posted (no pun intended), they will use a direct line of communication.

(B) I think I’ve learned what I wanted to learn from this experiment and I’m ready for it to be over. I’ve learned which parts of social media bring joy and/or value to my life and which parts are just plain distracting and useless, which is what all the intentional living hype is all about for me.  It’s not about giving away everything you own, going off the grid, or quitting your job to pursue your “real passion”. It’s about making the most out of each day, each moment, about celebrating average things and seeing their extraordinary components. When I learn something new, I’m always eager to apply it and that’s why I want to be done with this. Calling it quits early would also be an option but that would kind of go against the self-discipline component of this exercise. Hence, I’m going to hang in there for five more days and then unleash my better and more intentional self with a vengeance.  Image result for fomo

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Scroll No More – Days 6 – 15

You guys! I’m halfway through this experiment/challenge/rehab/self-prescribed time-out/ digital cleanse and I only had a few tiny relapses. I briefly considered to pretend that that didn’t happen – because who would know!? – but then I decided that the whole point of this blog is to share my experience honestly so that someone somewhere can maybe find some value in it. So here is when I relapsed:

1) When my wife and I went on a 5-day mini vacation in New Hampshire and Maine. I didn’t post anything and in fact made it a point to primarily take photos with my SLR camera rather than with my phone to make the process of photographing more mindful and intentional. But at the same time I felt a weird sense of jealousy that Julie got to share our beautiful vacation with our friends, while my photos remained unseen (for now) on my camera’s SD card. Out of that jealousy, I briefly visited Julie’s Instagram to see what she posted. Before getting to Julie’s page, I saw a few photos of my friends’ beautiful families and realized again how much I missed that part of social media. To not completely abort the mission, I resisted the urge to mindlessly scroll. Or, using the alcoholic analogy, I took a sip and then was able to put back the bottle before getting drunk mindlessly.

2) The next couple of sips were taken after the conclusion of “The Bachelorette”. (Yes, I know, watching a reality TV show doesn’t seem to be the best example of intentional living. I’m working on it.) The season finale was rather dramatic and the bachelorette’s choice slightly controversial so I JUST HAD TO go to her and her fiance’s Instagram pages to see how they were presenting themselves to the world. I also felt the need to check on Peter, the guy who got his heart broken in the process. He’s fine. They’re all fine as far as I can tell because social media is no place to show when you’re not fine. It should be. It should be a place to share our human experience and to use modern technology to multiply the love and support we have for each other. But I digress. Once again, I resisted the scrolling and stayed away from the notifications icons.

As for what I wanted to get out of this – primarily more time – it’s working. I’ve read more and had more meaningful conversations with the people I love and with myself. I’m starting to look ahead to the end of this detox and I’m confident that in another 15 days I will have learned how to use social media in an intentional, mindful manner.

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Scroll No More – Day 5

I got ready in 25 minutes this morning. Getting ready in this case entailed showering after my Crossfit class, throwing on some clothes (I work in an office where everyday is casual Friday and Friday is wear your sweats to work day), having a cup of coffee, picking up enough of my shit to keep my wife happy, and running out of the door (with wet hair, otherwise the 25 minutes would have turned into 30). What the fuck does that have to do with operation Scroll-No-More, you ask? Well, I usually need about an hour in the morning and I’m pretty sure that the infamous scrolling habit I’m trying to kick has a lot to do with slowing things down. Even if the actual scrolling only takes 15 minutes (on a good day), it has residual effects. Picking out an outfit takes longer when getting distracted by a cute kitten video on the way from the closet to the socks drawer, only to be stopped in my tracks by an adorable senior dog looking for a forever home on my way from the socks drawer to the shoe rack. (And we live in a studio apartment!)

My point is that I get out of the door much faster if I don’t touch my phone until I’m about to walk out. Every action is a tiny bit more deliberate and done a tiny bit faster. It’s not necessarily noticeable while I’m in the middle of it but makes such a big difference. Have you ever heard a wise man preach about how the little things add up? That’s why they call him a wise man…

little things

 

 

 

 

 

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Scroll No More – Day 4

Not even 100 hours of my social media detox have passed and I almost relapsed yesterday. When I needed a break from the spreadsheets, I picked up my phone and typed in facebook.com into the browser. It was automatic – like drinking water when I’m thirsty. Then I saw the familiar blue interface and the little red globe telling me that I had 12 notifications. I resisted the urge to see what they were notifying me of. I felt like an alcoholic picking up a bottle, opening it, smelling the liquor, and realizing that I was about to fuck up all the good progress that I made. I’m glad that I didn’t click on that tempting red globe, although I probably missed a few birthdays and a few likes to stroke my ego. It’s okay. My real friends will forgive me for not dropping a birthday message on their wall and my ego will learn to not depend on how many people like my posts.

adiccion-a-facebook

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Scroll No More – Day 3

Day 3 showed me that there’s more to this smartphone disease than social media. While staying away from Facebook and Instagram I still find myself using my phone as a pacifier. There are hundreds of my own photos, news websites, and emails (of zero importance) to scroll through. Turns out that eliminating time spent on social media does not magically increase productivity and creative thinking. Yesterday, I had at least half an eye on my phone for most of the day. I didn’t want to miss any important messages or phone calls (and by important I mean anything coming from my wife or family). Time to kick operation Scroll-No-More into a higher gear. Today, I will make an effort to put my phone out of reach/sight and limit the amount of notifications I receive.

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Scroll No More – Day 2

Yesterday was a lazy Sunday – a prime scrolling day. Normally, it’s part of the routine: coffee in bed while checking Instagram. Then go back and check for updates later during the day. Maybe post the 1001st cute dog picture of my fur babies just to let the world know that I love our dogs and that they are definitely cuter than yours. In that picture I would have included the serene background of beautiful summer country living to show how great my life is, especially on the weekend. I didn’t do any of that and realized that I can live without knowing who makes what kind of avocado toast, who’s sweating in which gym, and who’s at which airport going to which vacation destination. It doesn’t add a whole lot of value to my life. I also realized that it’s okay to take pictures of our dogs and the beautiful country setting simply for my own pleasure. There were a few things that I missed: Simey and Sara from Susie’s Senior Dogs, pictures of my friends’ kids, and leaving nice and/or encouraging comments to make people smile. With the hour that I took back from social media, I read a whole issue of Outside magazine, the women’s issue that had been sitting on a shelf for several weeks. It was fantastic and I might have even learned a thing or two about writing by reading stuff written by good writers.

Today I’m back at the office for just another manic Monday and I’m using my mental break to write this instead of checking in with my favorite members of the Bachelor franchise. Progress.

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