With my next scan just 4 weeks away, my only guaranteed month of freedom is this one. Fingers and toes are crossed that whatever is revealed in early February leads to more concrete answers, and eventual peace.
We could all use a little more peace after 2016.
I will be doing my best to embrace whatever challenges come my way, viewing them as opportunities for learning, personal growth, and practicing positivity. But after a lot of reflection, I have realized that there are already many challenges around me, and that I need to focus on infusing energy into a fresh set of intentions for 2017. Some of them more radical than others.
Allow me to explain.
In the past, I kept in-depth lists and records of everything I hoped to achieve in my life, broken down into monthly, weekly, and day-to-day benchmarks. The resulting archive is a hodgepodge collection that includes both digital and handwritten records, scaling back nearly a decade, with the recurring theme being over-ambitiousness.
As I look back, I am happy to see that many of my ambitions have been realized, but there’s a recurring pattern that I can’t ignore.
I was allocating more of my time towards defining goals than to chasing them. And I was allowing even more time to be wasted on areas of my life that began to feel natural, but are anything but (more on that in a moment). The end result has been years of growth and accomplishments that could have been much more fruitful in terms of action – not merely in the volume of pages scattered across endless notebooks.
This year, I am trying a new route towards managing my aspirations, and my relationship with time.
The abstract, overarching goal is to nurture the seeds I planted in 2016, while rearranging the filter through which I experience life, thus reprioritizing my time in a way that is more purposeful. Perhaps by loosening my grip on doing, goal-setting, organizing, sharing, engaging, and following trends – I can practice more be-ing, therefore growing in ways that seem unattainable. Radical, even.
Enter, my intentions:
Simplify everything, disconnect with abandon, and kill convenience.
Create more, with less expectations.
Cultivate patience, quiet, compassion, and calm.
Encompass myself, and my world, with the greatest care.
Seek and supply the greatest value.
Stay curious, with an insatiable appetite for knowledge and experience.
Each of these intentions begin with simplification, minimalism, going back to basics, and placing importance on actual reality over virtual reality.
These concise phrases, when repeated as mantras, will drive all decisions I make, thus avoiding the need to explicitly outline each individual goal that surfaces on such a segmented level. And with such clear intentions, my time will be allocated much more thoughtfully.
I consider it reclaiming the filter through which I experience life.
Have you ever thought about how much garbage you allow to cross your headspace every day? Whether it’s a television show that’s junk food for the brain (complete with commercials shilling actual junk food), or endless scrolling through social media feed, after social media feed, after social media feed…
Or maybe your house, or your closet, is quite literally filled with junk, that isn’t serving you, or providing joy?
And have you ever felt like you don’t have enough time to devote to cooking, cleaning, self-care, reading, exercising… fill in the blank ___? Justifying the ease of giving in to convenience-driven products and industries comes from this communal myth that there just isn’t enough time.
And giving in to the consumer-driven society we’ve become accustomed to breeds an appetite that can never be satiated.
The culmination of all of these elements can manifest in the feeling that you’re not really in control of what’s entering your psyche, leeching your energies, sucking up all of your free time, taking your dollars, or swaying your moods. It also leads to disconnection from those closest to you, from the natural world, and from a grounded, authentic relationship with yourself.
Despite what muscle memory may indicate these days we do, in fact, exist as unique, flawed, talented, worthy, and wonderful human beings, apart from the digital devices constantly in our hands.
And we wholly exist apart from our online personas, avatars, and filtered/augmented realities. But a lot of the time, it doesn’t seem that way, which can be detrimental to how we exist on this planet as an interconnected, communal species.
Perhaps we should have all listened a little closer when Jamiroquai said the “future’s made of virtual insanity.”
But here’s the best part: we are in control, we do have enough time, and we can achieve what we dream of. Even if the dream is merely feeling a bit more peaceful, or happy (and who doesn’t want that?).
It comes down to restructuring a mindset that’s been altered and consumed by the always-on, unending virtual world, which encases real life, thus creating a disconnected bubble. It comes down to reclaiming and instating your own filter for junk, and the many forms of it that we are fed. And it comes down to accepting that we already have all that we need, and that there is no pinnacle to consumption when we seek fulfillment and validation from it.
As I acknowledge the irony of sharing this message via an online blog, I also acknowledge my intentional simplification and disconnection from these tools. The desire to create and share is always stirring within me, and I have cherished the ease in which these platforms allow me to do so. But with ease comes a false sense of accomplishment and validation. With ease comes the cheapening of beauty, intelligence, and actual hard work.
So I am eliminating the ease, the distraction, and the rat race of social media – and sticking with the platforms that are all my own.
These points harken back to my intentions to create more with less expectations, and to seek and supply value. (I suppose identifying what you consider value comes first, and that is a question we all need to ponder.)
Just because I am creating does not mean that every endeavor needs to have the end goal of being shared. And just because something is trending, or going viral, or getting engagement (my own content included), does not mean it is providing value. Likes are not indicative of quality, and rising statistics do not always equate worth. The enticing game that so easily sucks us in can be a source of stagnation in many areas of real growth.
And so, I seek to truly grow. Merely existing in the mix has been insightful enough. Basically, I have reached peak internet and in turn, am left wanting a lot more from life.
You could consider the following a sampling of goals that my intentions have fueled:
- I want my energy to go towards growing more real, live, tangible things: vegetables, fruits, flowers, relationships, memories, and the like.
- I want my talents to be put to use in the garden, and in the kitchen, on a canvas, pottery wheel, via spoken word, etc.
- I want to cultivate a relationship with my food from seed to plate.
- I want to sit at the table and have real conversations with real people – no screens in sight.
- I want to walk outside and notice the light changing as we cycle through the seasons.
- I want fresh air, and connections with nature that can be felt, not merely seen through a window or screen.
- I want to hold a book in my hands, or a paintbrush, or another hand.
- I want freedom from wi-fi availability, battery charge levels, and the self-perpetuated pressure of “needing” to have a voice in this intangible, online space.
- I want to create art for art’s sake that has no metrics or statistics attached to it.
- I want to follow my curiosity, and learn and understand as much as I can.
- I want to take the hard way, the from scratch way, the old fashioned way… any way that bucks convenience and provides a connection to real, raw reality.
- I want to facilitate real change – I want to walk the walk 100%, and I want to forget liking, retweeting, or sharing a false sense of actual influence or worthiness.
- I want to kill convenience and consumerism in my life, in an effort to thrive as a human.
- I want to act upon wellness in every sense of the word – from within the depths of my own body to the outstretches of my hands on this planet.
I don’t know where these intentions and goals will lead me, but I am eager to chase them.
And this last point may be a bit too far of a diversion, but perhaps not.
I worry that many of the social injustices, human rights issues, ignorances, and environmental crises will only worsen as humans fall more and more victim to the online world and convenient replacements for some of the most basic joys in life. I am talking about the most simple avenues that breed awareness, connection, and understanding through real life experiences. The parts of life that make us feel most alive, heard, understood, connected, and loved.
Those parts do not come from a tilted head downward, entranced by the “world” within a tiny screen.
And so I begin my own quest to move into the new year with these mindful, radical intentions, and to reclaim the space that I exist within, and that exists within my mind. I hope you do too, in the unique way that serves your individual spirit.
Happy New Year.