In this age of the quantified self, we measure how many hours we slept, steps we took, calories we burned. Yet we know nothing about ourselves. We spend more time checking-in to our stats than our souls. Our experience is mined for data but not depth. We have all these numbers to improve now, but no idea how to dial back the numbness.
Life doesn’t have to be a spreadsheet, yet our useless fascination goes on. We spend more time shopping, in considering the thread-count of our sheets before purchase, than we do soul-searching, that beautiful art of thinking about the quality and purpose of our lives.
We are addicted to the constant digital stream, often peering gape-mouthed into the sordid details of other people’s lives; in the process we have checked-out of reality, neglecting our own life so pregnant with potential and meaning.
If we are to measure and monitor and improve anything, let it be our presence and character, a mindfulness for who we are and how we are experiencing and relating with the world. Have I been true to myself? Have I lived vibrantly today? Have I loved openly today? Have I made a difference today? Let us check in to ourselves in these ways; for, in the end, these are the only measures that matter.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story.”—Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (via luminaired)
“Forgive. Forget. Fake it. Chin up. Wear lipstick, make lists, make sure your voicemail isn’t full. Mix protein shakes, send timely thank you notes, sip drinks more slowly, stare at adults’ eyebrows, smile without dimples, develop perfect posture. Be gracious, be kind, eliminate self-pity. Look in the mirror and shift your internal monologue from ‘How do I look?’ to ‘This is my face,’ from ‘What the hell am I doing?’ to ‘This is my life.’ Capitalize your emails, read the news, walk briskly, stay focused, and never, ever let on that you are somewhat lost and sometimes lonely and so completely confused (and would someone please just let me know what it is I’m supposed to do next, where exactly I’m supposed to go–). Just keep going. Go, and do not stop.”—Jennifer Schaffer, A Checklist For The Age 19 (via dearallofyouwhowrongedme)
“I no longer think being in love is the polar opposite of being alone, however. I say that because I used to want to be in love again as I assumed this was the opposite of loneliness. I think being in love is an opposite of loneliness, but not the opposite. There are other things I now crave when I am lonely, like community, like friendship, like family. I think our society puts too much pressure on romantic love, and that is why so many romances fail. Romance can’t possibly carry all that we want it to.”—Donald Miller (via her—-self)
“We live in an age where we feel guilt whenever we have to cut someone off but the reality is that some relationships do need to die, some people do need to be unfollowed and defriended. We aren’t meant to be this tethered to the people in our past. The Internet mandates that we don’t burn bridges and keep everyone around like relics but those expectations are unrealistic and unhealthy. Simply put, we don’t need to know what everyone else is up to. We’re allowed to be choosy about who we surround ourselves with online and in real life, even if it might hurt people’s feelings.”—
“Don’t hang out with people who don’t love you. Don’t try to impress people who aren’t worth it. Don’t try to win people over who aren’t worth it. Focus on yourself, and focus on the people who are really awesome and who love you. Don’t hang out with people who make you feel like shit. Don’t spend your energy on them. There is so much pressure to be part of the right thing: well, you should create the right thing. If you don’t see it, create it. If you don’t see what you want, be the change you want to see.”—Beth Ditto (via wendesgray)
“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is ‘Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.”—Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? (via petite-ben)
“You have bled for someone else for far too long, I think it’s time someone bleeds for you. You’ve cried for someone else for far too long, I think it’s time you let someone weep for you. You’ve loved someone else for far too long, I think it’s time you let someone love you. Oh won’t you let it be me, my dear? Won’t you let it be me?”—
“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”—Laura Vanderkam (via the-healing-nest)
We love to make a trail, which eventually with time turns into a paved line in the earth. Each car, foot, or whatever transportation we choose carves itself into the land. While the first few times we love the adventure, full of bumps, rocks, and plants all around, after a few trips we hate the annoyances of this nature. So we pave over it for convenience. We pave over the hardships, dig up the plants, pile the rocks away and lose the adventure.
Then one day, one day we climb up high. We look down wanting to know why there’s a hole in our chest and there we see it, the paved grid of easiness below us. In that moment we realize, we not only paved over the hardships, ridding ourselves of the plants and rocks, we paved over part of our soul as well. Undoing it all won’t be easy, in fact it’s impossible, because in building those paved paths we’ve given others access to our once special, unique, personal adventurous journeys and now hundreds, thousands, and millions have made our path their own too.
So we move on…
We make new paths elsewhere. Start on new adventures. Move to uncharted territory, hoping no one else has already marked it out as their own, praying our lost adventure comes back in a new form of nature, counting on not making the same mistakes twice.
For some the journey works, for a while at least, they think they’ve learned and will never think twice about making their path easier again… until one day they feel they have no choice and give up. Others? They stay tied back to the original pavement, finding that a new path is too difficult to find and starting over is too hard to achieve.
But for a few of us, we never stop searching, learning from our past, constantly looking towards uncharted territory to wander down, stretching our paths from one side of the world to the next, never wanting to turn back, never wanting anything less than adventure, never wanting anything more than another uncharted land…
-Sean O’Connell (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Movie)
I recently quit writing in an other blog that got a little too much traffic (mainly my fault for thinking that friends could handle me for me and not get their feelings hurt). I’ve been toying with the idea of just blogging on here for now until too many people discover this here too. Usually I just use this to reblog other people’s stuff… not because i don’t have an original idea but because my mind is too full of them and needs an escape.
I write this to start fresh, to have a safe haven from the mess 2013 left in more than half my relationships through writing. That’s the beautiful part of life… we can always find a safe haven from the monsters that haunt us.