Friday, July 31, 2009

How is middle healthy?

Some folks have this idea that I’m Mr. Organized. If they only knew… Sure, I get things done, but I struggle with priorities and what to do now. I have a rebellious personality that chafes at too much structure – even when it’s self-imposed. I make plans and lists and keep a calendar, but sometimes I simply ignore them.

Since fatigue is a major issue in my life, I constantly struggle with finding time and energy to do all I want. I need to ask myself “What am I unable to do because I make time for or am distracted by ______?”

Cell phones that ring, email that dings, websites that fascinate, and broadcast voices that share my space have a tendency to interfere. I recognize that sometimes I need to unplug for a time from one or more of these. This occurs most completely during major faerie gatherings twice a year. Regardless of what is going on in my life then, I make a conscious decision to unplug. This means that in the week or so before, I take care to clean up loose ends. It means I decide - and make it known I’ve decided - to be essentially unreachable during the gathering. Personal electronic devices are left behind for the duration.

During the gathering I wallow in the isolation from electronic messaging, voicemail, utility grids, media, corporate culture, and fast access. I make love with my honey, take multiple naps, help prepare and eat great food, and cuddle in puppy piles. The music of nature, laughter, conversations, passion, and amazing unplugged performances are the soundtrack for the gathering. Renewed, I invariably come home with different and challenging ways of thinking about my life, love, and work on my mind.

Between gatherings I explore how these ideas fit into my everyday life. One thing I can practice at home is recharging by unplugging – a lot or a little, not always radically or totally. Perhaps I choose not to take calls for a day or check my email for several. Maybe I impose a weekend or week-long news embargo. PBS and NPR often keep me company, but the 69th gay marriage debate this year won’t feed my body, mind, or soul like a book or CD from my collection, an advertisement-free magazine, or (imagine!) several hours of relative silence.

There are other questions I ask myself about being plugged in: Are these things useful tools or just mindless distractions? Is this a meaningful ritual or just another addictive habit? How do the seemingly comforting connections and environments I create affect my mood, perception, and productivity?

-- middle

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