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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mindful Use vs. Shutting Down

I was considering what I wanted to write about today when I received an email.  I'm not sure exactly how it ended up in my inbox but it got me thinking....

The summary of the email is that the Occupy Movement is planning to use October 28th as a "Shut The System Down" day.  The email instructed me to join this movement by turning off my lights and all electrical devices, not using Internet, radio, or phone, not purchasing anything, cancelling any services I don't need, and calling in sick to work. All this  for a 24 hour period.  It was suggested I should do nothing that generates money into "the system". I was told to read a book, meditate, play, sing, dance, create, or frolic in nature. I was told to "step out of the system and get back to myself".  See, I have a problem with that.

I'm kind of disappointed in this latest turn of events.  To me, it sounds like going against something, picking a side, deciding there is a right and a wrong. But then again I don't like to be "told" to do anything.  I like to be "the boss of me".  Personally, there are parts of "the system" I very much appreciate and like to have around me.  I enjoy turning the lights on, connecting with people and information over the Internet and I like my work.  I enjoy money (when I have it!) and I like to spread it around! I do agree it makes sense to cancel any services I don't need.  Considering Lunar Sambain, this would be a good time to reassess that and maybe I would find more money to spread around in ways I want to!

I also like to take time to read a book.  I find that easier when I can turn the lights on and see the pages, otherwise I would be forced to read in daylight hours only. Having tried to read with a flashlight under the covers, I find that's a fun activity, but it's hard on aging eyes! I don't sing well at all- so I prefer to enjoy someone else's music when I feel the need for music.  I don't have the radio on in the car anymore and I enjoy that time to think instead. That works for me. I love to create.  I can create much better when I can type the words into my computer- I'm faster at typing than writing and it just works for me. I have more opportunity to "frolic in nature" and enjoy time with friends because I have a portable device that lets me know if I need to respond to a work event. It means I can spend time doing something fun instead of spinning my wheels occupying space at my work desk waiting for a phone call or an email or both. That just works for me.

I didn't always want the constant connection and I rebelled against cell phones and definitely against texting. I thought they were rude and intrusive, bad for your mental health and your ability to "in the world".  And then I heard a psychologist speak at a conference.  She was a busy working mother, well known in her field, doing some ground breaking stuff in the area of teen violence, particularly school shootings. She explained how while researching that very topic, she got a text from her teenage son.  He was in a lock -down situation at his school. There was a shooter in the hallway. They used text messaging to connect with each other and she gave instructions to him and the friends around him as well.  She "virtually counselled" and told her son how she loved him.  She was "with him" during that event in a way she never could have been before. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when she was done talking.  Her son and his friends were okay by the way.

See.. I don't want to "shut down that system".  I want that kind of connection because knowing that possibility exists gives me peace and comfort and helps alleviate a lot of worry I might otherwise carry around with me. I'll gladly trade the weight and distraction  of technology for the weight and distraction  of worry.  But that's just me.

For me there is a middle ground.  I want to be able to pick and choose my middle ground.  Therefore I appreciate what the "system" has to offer and understand I can use it as I pick and choose.  I do understand falling into the trap of trying to do more because you can.  That's the washing machine syndrome Some times it pays to step back from a fast paced world and settle into yourself.  The thing is, October 28th may not be the day I choose to do that! 

This whole idea of shut down seems to me to be a "Vervain" idea.  Vervain is a Bach Flower essence that is helpful for "over-enthusiasm". People that respond well to Vervain are determined, strong-willed, and sensitive to injustice. They can change the world, of that there is no doubt.  But sometimes they need a bit of balance. They can sometimes become rather fanatical so they alienate potential allies and converts.  A few drops of Vervain can help balance the over-enthusiastic so that you don't impose your views on others. Hmm..

In my opinion it's all about balance and balance is an individual attribute. Cerato is a Bach Flower essence that helps you trust yourself.  Inside we all have that inner knowing that directs us. We just need to listen to that voice. It is about listening, not necessarily speaking.  If you feel it's right for you to shut everything down, then  that's right for you, and the right choice to make.  If you feel it's right for you to be "tuned in" that's right for you and the right choice to make.  It's not about flowing to one side or the other just because there is a movement to do so.  It's not about being "for" or "against" . It is about "being" what is right for you.

In my opinion, the "system" can be draining.  People put in long hours at work and find it hard to stop working because of constant connections and instant requirements. The "system" can also be liberating.  People put in long hours when they washed clothes by hand.  It took much longer to write a report or a letter when you did so with pen and ink and mailed it or had it hand delivered by pony express. Life can be easier when you embrace technology and it can be more peaceful when you shut technology off. The balance is in the middle and with individual choice.

Here's the thing.  In order to "call in sick" on October 28th, I think you are going to have to use the phone or connect via the Internet and send an email.  You can just not show up for work and that might work for you too. You and you alone, get to make the decision.  You and you alone, live with the consequences.  So tomorrow I'm going to be mindful about how I use "the system".  I'm going to think about what really feels right for me to do and what I might be doing just because I'm following the herd. I'm going to use technology and all parts of the system if it makes my life easier.  I'm going to shut off what doesn't feel right. I hope to find a balance in the middle.  But... that's just me...

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. You captured exactly my own sentiments about technology here, and in a very well written manner. Thanks!