The return of Philosophy Phridays….
I was surprised and enlightened by the response to my off-the-cuff comments about the pace of life and the ubiquity of social media. I seem to have struck a chord. If so many of us want to slow down, why are we all still going so fast?
A large part of the reason, surely, has to be the peer pressure to always be available. Ever since I returned to dry land, I have been fighting a losing battle with my Inbox. The messages are exciting and they are welcome, but there are so very many of them. I would like to think that this is because I am so spectacularly popular (!) but in truth, this seems to be a pervasive problem that is shared by most of my friends. We all wish we had less email, more time.
Don’t get me wrong. Communication is good. Relationships are essential to happiness and wellbeing. But how do we ensure that we don’t sacrifice quality to quantity? How do we make sure that we don’t mistake communication for connection? It is easy to communicate with somebody, but harder to truly connect with them on an emotional and energetic level that enhances the lives of both individuals.
One of my back-to-dry-land resolutions is to work at making time to have deep and meaningful conversations. Ideally in person, but it is possible to be deep and meaningful online too – if you have enough time. So far, my resolution has not been particularly successful. My rushed lunch at Angelo’s forge. My hectic schedule across 4 cities in 2 weeks. It is far easier said than done.
I remember back to the summer of 2004, my own personal “Summer of Love” – love for the world, love for my new life, love for the limitless opportunities opening up to me when I let go of the fears and limitations of my old life. Time was on my side. I allowed conversations to reach their natural conclusions. I took time to enjoy the smell and sight of a flower, or to enjoy the shade of a tree, or to savour a meal break away from my laptop.
Magic ensued. I had that blinding flash of inspiration to row across oceans to raise environmental awareness. I had allowed my subconscious the time and space to percolate the inputs and produce an output. I yearn for that to happen again.
When my consciousness is being bombarded by input, there is no opportunity for the outputs to happen. It’s like the ideas are trying to get out through a doorway that is jammed by incoming traffic. At this formative stage of my life, as I consider my plans for the next 7 years, I need to relax, slow down, kick back, and allow the wisdom to emerge.
How do you make me-time in your busy day? I’d love to hear from you.
I have just arrived in London, via a busy 36 hours in New York. I am here until Sunday, before heading to Oxford. A quick glimpse into my diary:
Friday: various meetings with agents, collaborators, and friends in London
Saturday: interview on “Excess Baggage” on BBC Radio 4 with John McCarthy, who may know a thing or two about being confined in small spaces. In the evening, receiving Guinness world records certificates at the Ocean Rowing Society dinner.
Monday-Tuesday: staying in Oxfordshire with my friend Jane Hornsby, who was our fearless navigator on the walk from Big Ben To Brussels in 2009
Wednesday: back to New York!