This is an uncut blog entry, meaning I have done little to censor the flow of thoughts about the topic of simplicity. Please do not read too deeply into what I say below; in the words of my good friend Larry, “I’m just trying to figure it all out myself.”
I remember years ago–perhaps 15 or so–when the world wide web was on the brink of changing our lives. Never before (at least in my lifetime) had a promise of simplicity been ushered to us so strongly. With this new technology, we would be able to save hundreds of hours of researching and seeking out important facts simply with a few keystrokes. All we ever needed to know would be nanoseconds away, freeing us up to live our lives more fully, more simply, free of the anxiety and stress that had plagued us in our endless pursuit for simple things.
Here I am, 15 years later, voluntarily chained to more electronic devices and accounts than I could have ever imagined. The simplicity that was promised back in 1994 is The Last Great Lie of the 20th century, only now being fully realized.
I sometimes think that I just missed this generation rush by a few years, and I will be forever held back by my memories of the way life used to be, where simplicity was more than a concept; it was a way of life for most of us. Had I been born in the early 70s, I don’t think there would be this constant pull to return to something that, for the most part, no longer exists.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing here in my blog, and I am beginning to pick up the pace at The Examiner. I do my best to manage the flow of email that comes in for the various projects I’ve taken on (again–all by choice), and I genuinely love and appreciate all of the great connections I’ve made on Facebook.
It’s just that, when I need to take a little break from it all, the guilt is so strong when I return and I see all that I have neglected. I want technology to provide a life that was promised to me; I want my life to be simplified by my e-choices, not complicated.
I know it’s up to me and the choices I make, but even in the last two years or so, the choices have come at critical costs.
Writing and publishing is all about marketing and selling yourself. Having a Twitter account does wonders for my publicity, but if I pause even momentarily, I feel out of the loop and no longer in the running for serious consideration as a bona fide writer.
Same with Facebook. We are so close to so many, and I begin to feel guilty when I cannot muster a response to somebody who is having a bad day. Every pulse of who we are is available for comment, for concern, for celebration. I love it all, and yet I feel the pull to disconnect, unplug, get out of that pulse and return to the solitude in the woods, on the water, that know of no status updates or blog posts.
It’s that same feeling you get when you’ve been running a fever or fighting a stomach bug. You aren’t hungry at all for days, and it feels pretty good to have that empty stomach. But the lure is strong to eat, to return to your old ways. Within days, you’re back to the things that probably made you sick in the first place, and the cycle continues.
When I unplug for a few days and refresh, I look at Twitter, Facebook, and my blog with a renewed energy, and I come back with daily posts, witty tweets, and inspiring status updates. In a few short weeks, though, that fades once again, and I am left seeking out simplicity.
I want to live simply. I want to live without conflict.
I want to allow love to guide my every breath, my every thought, my every action.
I want to embrace technology and have the ability to do my job and power down when the time is right.
I want to please, to share, to enjoy, to cherish.
I want to be the heron in the reeds: still, patient, focused.
I want to not want. I just want to be.