Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Being a Person

From 22C, 2013

Did you see it? I'm not a big Louis C.K. fan, but Chris told me I'd like it, so I watched. I did like it. And to my surprise, I've been thinking about it every since. Well, I haven't really been thinking about the entire video. What captured my attention was the part about being a person.

"You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person."

And it's not just phones. It's laptops and televisions and magazines and cameras. I hate to say it, but even books. I love reading, but just sitting there sometimes is a beautiful thing. It seems it is possible to eat lunch alone in a restaurant without a book. Who knew? Not always having my nose in something has proven to be quite pleasant.

I didn't pick up an uninteresting magazine and flip while waiting for my dental hygienist. It was a challenge. I always pick up one of those uninteresting magazines, yet once I got past my reflex, it was nice to simply look out the window and wait.

I'm not perfect, I didn't just sit there when I picked up my phone and documented myself sitting there on this flight, but I definitely did less. It was a nice quiet flight. I looked at the sky and thought of many things.

50 comments:

  1. stillness is so essential to our well-being. Your quiet trip sounds like a serene meditation. It's a really good thing to be with oneself, just sitting.

    I liked when he said: "when you let yourself feel sad, your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes rushing in to meet the sadness. So I was grateful to feel sad, and then I met it with true, profound happiness. It was such a trip."

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  2. Yes yes. I like that part too. It's probably the best way to get over feeling sad, just let it go, let yourself be sad...get it all out. Then the happiness has a little space.

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  3. sadness is the yin part of happiness (one cannot be without the other one)

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  4. If just sitting there is a virtue...then I'm a saint. But I'm not. In the dentist's office I eschew the magazines and mentally redecorate the waiting room to make it look less drab and institutional. When gazing out my kitchen window at the the trees, I am mining for words that feel like wind and leaves and green. Looking at people and houses as I drive, I am wondering what they are cooking for dinner, what books they are reading, or where their gardeners live. No tabula rasa here I'm afraid. Still, I feel more at peace at those times than when I am plugged in to the plug-ins.

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    1. An empty mind is not something I've mastered. I don't even know if I'm capable. To me, all of those things you describe, besides the magazines, seem the type of state I have in mind.

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  5. I did this at the park the other day. My husband was watching both kids play in the dirt and I stayed behind in the middle of a big field. At first I had my phone out and then I felt foolish, as if why shouldn't I be able to just sit here, enjoying the warm sun and the blue sky, and watching strangers run around. So I put the darn thing away. And I'm going to be doing more of that. Thanks for this post.

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  6. Ah yes, I should make more time to just sit. I find it hard so I should try harder.

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  7. I did see that Louis C.K. segment, and loved how he articulated the whole thing about us avoiding that inner aloneness, the sadness....rather than experience it.
    so many diversions/distractions now. I try to make time every day to have silence. and just be.
    I wouldn't feel bad about all your reading, though, Denise...exploring those worlds helps to expand and fill that creative well.

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    1. I have the feeling you are good at finding that silence. I'll never give up all the reading, but I might try and take a few breaks between chapters.

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  8. To sit and be quiet. I needed that reminder. It is so lovely when I do.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this, Denise.

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    1. You are welcome, Annette. Thank you for reading.

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  10. I don't feel sad so often, but I like to be with my own thoughts. A lot of people are surprised that I don't walk listening to music, but it's the same thing. I like to be alone with my thoughts and just to see what's around me. Of course, I don't have a phone or ipod, so I'm just an odd duck all around! I do spend a fair bit of time online, but I like being able to unplug by walking away, and I see how strong the temptation is to not unplug when you have instant and constant access.
    My son (13) has no phone - he thinks I'm a little mean.

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    1. I used to always walk with my music, but it's been years. Like you, I prefer the full experience of the walk.

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  11. I watched the clip and enjoyed every moment. As a cell phone-less, TV-less, iPod-less person in my 30s, I'm overjoyed to have a little confirmation that I'm not crazy; even if my choices are rooted in financial reasons rather than a search for self-awareness. But really, it's unbelievably gorgeous here! Why would anyone want to distract themselves from these surroundings? I find myself inwardly shaking my head when I see people hiking with earphones on, or asking where they might be able to charge their cell phones along the trail.

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  12. I loved those lines... I am on to making apple marmelade so no sitting for a while. But I will watch the video, and then I will sit some... in silence.

    Sitting in the forest is perfect for just sitting.

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  13. I remember the big billboard campaign, 'you're never alone with a mobile phone.' It seemed more worrying than reassuring.

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    1. Just like they were never alone in Fahrenheit 451 with their "parlor walls".

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  14. Yes, this is something I'm trying to cultivate more often too. What a wonderful project you have set yourself! Always about finding the balance between the technology that connects us and also overwhelms us. Thank you for your lovely comment, I was just thinking of you a couple of days ago. (that "grateful" pot was outside a cafe, so cute) x

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    1. Balance is key. I'd like to have that grateful pot in my home. Perhaps I'll borrow the idea.

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  15. I thought about this video for days afterwards too. Thanks for this lovely post.

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  16. I read in Fairfield Porter's biography that while he was growing up dinners and breakfasts with his family were always quiet because they were all reading books! I secretly think I would be happy if all members of my family were such avid readers... And no my eleven year old does not have a phone because it is all small talk and too many games, but if she wanted to read at breakfast I wouldn't stop her... I would actually give her a big, loud kiss! Am I terrible Denise?

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    1. Terrible? No, not at all. Encouraging young people to read is one of the most important things a parent can do. I have my mother to thank for this gift. My visits to the library began very early in life. The habit stuck.

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  17. I confess it makes my heart sink when I look around and see the majority of heads on the street, or in a restaurant, dipped down to peer at screens. People sitting next to each other, not talking, but tapping. I like to think of your quiet flight and your many thoughts. I love the photo - it transports me.

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    1. My heart sinks in the same way. I was truly lucky on this flight. I had my own row. It's easy to bliss out with your own row.

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  18. Had five minutes to spare while waiting for a kid to finish a sports activity and thought, okay, rather than read or check my phone, I'll sit here. I did. for about two seconds and then I thought, oh, I could download a free app that will help me still my mind. So what do you think? Does that kinda defeat the exercise?

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    1. Yes. Especially when you've tempted me into thinking, I wonder which app she's referring to. You...

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    2. Calm.com, but better still is this song by Tom Brosseau: http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2013/09/26/226519040/new-mix-fuzz-danny-brown-linda-thompson-more

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    3. You are awesome. I tried a 2 minute guided calm and kind of liked it. Great song. Great title. Cradle Your Device. Ha! Thanks, Rachael.

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  19. i like that thought, and hold it, for it is what visits me often: the urge to let go of this matter, this matter which encumbers so. i sometimes wonder where it'll all lead to too, surely we are deeper humans than this eclectic display of matter? thxs for the thought. n♥

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    1. Yes, I too wonder where it will all lead. Sometimes I feel I'm living inside a book of science fiction.

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  20. I'm glad to read your blog. The noise of a cabin often brings me a time to think myself.

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    1. Knowing where to find that special time is certainly helpful.

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  21. This post has stayed with me through the weekend. Breakfast time I love opening the windows and just sitting quietly. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Morning is such a perfect time for quiet. A wonderful way to begin a day.

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  22. SO excellent. and true. personhood. we're loosing it.

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  23. As the world goes awry, we can hold on. Awareness is step one, yes?

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  24. I also can't stop thinking about the video. I'm not a saint either, but sometimes I wish people - even friends - would do something without having to share it with the entire world. Just experience it! Without having to photograph, tweet or instagram it:-)

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    1. Our current technology certainly begs us to pin, tweet, instagram, flicker, vine, facebook, blog, our every move. And I often cave to the temptation. When to share and when not to share. Hmm. Who knows the answer...

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  25. Oh yes. It's hard now with our technological habits, but so rewarding.

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    1. Your note comes as a nice reminder, Brooke. I think I'm going to leave those habits here on the table for a while. Thanks.

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  26. "...the ability to just sit there." I couldn't agree more, yet know I should do it more. Don't you find that's when you notice the world around you in so much more detail? Thank you for the reminder :)

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    1. I too should do it more. So off I go to notice every detail of my Sunday oatmeal.

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