Quote

A Map of Sorrow, Part II

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes,

ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,

“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come will not be remembered
by those who follow them.

I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.
What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;  all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1, v. 3-14

Part 1 of this post is here.

Sometimes on Saturday mornings I like to read the obituaries. This is a perfectly normal hobby (said no one ever) but I like to read them for what I think is an unusual reason. Hear me out. The little details of people’s lives always interest me; the places they’ve traveled, where they moved before arriving in my city, the jobs they held and names they gave their children; the small things that make us human. When I visit cemeteries, there is nothing left of this.

This is one of the things that bothers me most about death, when I really think about it. Not even the sadness and immediate loss of someone who was so alive and present, but the flattening of a person.

The transition from a vibrant and multi-faceted being into a list of dates and characteristics has always seemed like a disservice on top of a loss. I feel this way about people I know, and about people I will never know; almost as if I’m mourning the loss of whatever made them them, and the process that makes it so.

I don’t think this is a very normal thing to worry over, but normal is just a setting on the dryer anyway.

Reading the obituaries, even if they’re a bit flat (they usually are) or paint the person as some type of saint (they usually do) is one way I get around this.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about death, which prompted me to write these two posts. Not in a morbid sort of way, more as a reflection on the circle of life. I’ve just noticed how we handle it and don’t handle it in society (usually we don’t).

I first noticed it when an acquaintance died a few years ago in a recreational accident. What I realized about his death was how utterly unnecessary it was, and how ridiculous it was to be angry about this. Yet still, I was.

Before his death, I’d always had the idea that at least if we had to die, it would be better if it happened in the service of some type of worthy cause. I know how silly this is; thousands of people die every day from heart attacks and unintentional injuries. Still, like most people, I looked for some meaning in his death, and finding none, I was incredibly frustrated.

The years I’ve spent editing the world news sections of the local paper should have prepared me for these types of moments. One can only edit so many versions of ‘Suicide bomber attacks wedding party, kills 57’ before becoming a bit numb to the whole business of death. But it didn’t. I still felt something, if only an impotent rage at the inanity of it, the waste of someone’s life spent so early.

Who am I, you might be thinking, to determine if someone’s life is wasted? It’s a good question. If someone dies doing something they love doing, isn’t that as good a way to go as any? After all, most of the time death doesn’t mean anything, like it does in stories. It’s not saving someone from burning building or a speeding car, usually. It’s mundane, or slowly agonizing, or an emptiness so sudden we don’t realize it’s there until we pick up the phone to call someone who can’t answer.

To save this post from being completely sad, although I don’t believe in fake happy endings, I’ll leave with a bit of a poem, one that’s stayed with me ever since I read it. All we have are the moments right in front of us, with those we have now, because there are no guarantees about getting an interesting obituary.

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

(Ellen Bass, If You Knew) 

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A Map of Sorrow

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed) 

Part II of this post is here.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. This has been a busy year, with a new job and a lot of work to take on. I felt this week, though, that I needed to write this post.

I had a conversation with someone recently that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. This person had a loved one die, and we talked about what it was like to grieve in today’s society. Namely, that it is difficult, because people who grieve are generally expected to move on quickly from their feelings and resume normal activities and attitudes, as though grief were a temporary illness one could recover from in short order.

My own experience with grief has been nothing like that. I am not an outwardly emotional person, but I feel almost a kinship with sadness and grief; these emotions are familiar to me for reasons that don’t always make sense, but they often seem as though they have always been part of my life. I feel a deep grief for relationships or possibilities that might have been, or ones that once were treasured and meaningful, but no longer hold what they once did. I’m almost ashamed to admit this, as it seems pale compared to the grief of those who have lost someone physically. But the loss is there, all the same.

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

One of my favorite authors died this week. For a while after I heard of this, I sat in stunned disbelief at my desk, unable to process the news. She was so young, the age of my friends and I, who are in our mid-30s. Her death was completely unexpected.

What I never feel about grief, at least at first, is sad. It’s the suddenness that gets me, every time. That phantom-limb feeling, that the person is actually still there, surely they’ll call or post online or pop up at the next family gathering. This is all a terrible dream, isn’t it? I just saw them. They can’t be dead.

Then, though I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss. Like in those dreams where nothing terrible occurs—nothing that would sound even remarkable if you told it at breakfast-time—but the atmosphere, the taste, of the whole thing is deadly. So with this.

I see the rowan berries reddening and don’t know for a moment why they, of all things, should be depressing. I hear a clock strike and some quality it always had before has gone out of the sound. What’s wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking? Then I remember. (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed)

For a long time, I have grieved the loss of my relationship with my father. He is not dead, but he’s not part of my life and other than a few visits during my childhood, never has been. I used to think that I could not mourn something I never had. But sometimes, in weak moments, I do.

I see other people with their fathers and I wonder what it would have been like to know him. To have him come to my wedding and my graduation and see the milestones in my life that other dads cry over and chronicle on social media, as though they are meaningful events that they would like to remember. I don’t often think of this, because it smacks of self-pity and has little use. But sometimes, I wonder what that would have been like.

I grieve for the death of my favorite author because I think she provided me with something few people have; a sense of truly being understood, and welcomed despite my broken pieces. I am fortunate to have acceptance and love from many members of my family, and that is valuable beyond words. But sometimes, it is hard to feel that anyone, even those who love me, truly understand my darkest places. At the heart of that feeling is the fear that if anyone did understand, they would not like what they see. After all, isn’t that what most of us fear?

This feeling is something I grapple with on a monthly and yearly basis, not something to be gotten over and neatly put away in a drawer, as seems to be expected of people experiencing grief. That’s the thing; there is not a textbook version of how to grieve.

Many people are grieving for someone who is still alive. It may be someone they walk past every day, who is as far away from them as if they were living in another country.

If the person you’re grieving has died, it’s not as if things will be the same again, usually. A person may recover from their most painful sadness and emptiness, but the death of someone deeply loved, or the loss of a truly beloved relationship, is not something to be papered over, sanded down and forgotten.

Each person who means something to us acquires that meaning by changing some piece of us. That piece doesn’t go away because they do.

We’re resilient creatures. We’ll get up again and keep going, because what else can we do? It’s alright to remember that people who truly mean something to us will probably leave a hole in our lives for a long while. Perhaps forever.

We may move on and be happy again. We should be happy again, if we can. Or content, or pursuing something that fulfills us, because happy is a narrow definition of happy. It’s alright to admit that loss has changed us, no matter what kind of loss it is.

To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off it is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’

But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. His whole way of life will be changed.  At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again. (C.S. Lewis) 

Finite games

All human activity is such an exercise (can one resist the word “ritual”?) in squaring the circle. We first produce the world by symbolic work and then take up residence in the world we have produced.

Alas, there is magic in our self deceptions.

(James Carey)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time. Time as we know it was invented.

When clocks became widely used around the mid-1600s and into the Industrial Revolution, they changed the way we think about almost everything; work, play, rest, even the morality of time. It’s certainly changed the way the workplace operates.

“By the fourteenth century, the common understanding of what time was had changed; it became a grid against which work was measured, rather than the work itself being the measure.

Clock towers funded by local merchant guilds were erected throughout Europe. These same merchants placed human skulls on their desks as memento mori, to remind themselves that they should make quick use of their time.

Photo by David von Diemar

The proliferation of domestic clocks and pocket watches that coincided with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century allowed for a similar attitude toward time to spread among the middle class.

Time came to be widely seen as a finite property to be budgeted and spent, much like money. And these new time-telling devices allowed a worker’s time to be chopped up into uniform units that could be bought and sold.

Factories started to require workers to punch the time clock upon entering and leaving.

The change was moral as well as technological. One began to speak of spending time rather than just passing it, and also of wasting time, killing time, saving time, losing time, racing against time, and so forth.

Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, an episodic style of working was increasingly treated as a social problem.

Methodist preachers exhorted “the husbandry of time”; time management became the essence of morality. The poor were blamed for spending their time recklessly, for being as irresponsible with their time as they were with their money.” (David Graeber)

Today most of us feel the effects of this race against the clock. We are busy, stressed, optimized, sleep-deprived and anxious. We are high achievers. Yet despite this, we hardly feel like we’re good enough, useful enough, meaningful enough.

People have never had more time than we have today. The same hours have always been there. And arguably people have always struggled with some of these things. So what is different?

Previously in history, lots of people’s problems were brought on or exacerbated by outside forces; wars, food shortages, plagues, high mortality rates and the like. Today, in the age of anxiety, the number one cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease.

We’ve always been good at being bad to one another. But I’m not sure we’ve ever been so good at being hard on ourselves.

We could probably blame this on lots of factors. Our culture of comparison and hard-driving ambition doesn’t reward people who choose contemplation and quiet.

It demands visibility, quick gains and a willingness to do what it takes to get to the top. The worst sin in the world today is to be an average person.

To really get to the top, what does that take, besides 10,000 hours? It means telling yourself a story, and doing everything in your life to reinforce that story.

Whatever I do in life isn’t good enough unless I’m the best. Unless I’m constantly moving upward, I’m nothing. Unless I’m the fittest, best-looking, thinnest, highest-earning person here I’ve failed. I’m in competition with everyone in this room.

That narrative changes the way we interact with other people. They’re not peers. They’re tools, or in the way.

We’re telling ourselves a story from a scarcity mindset we’ve created. It might be real, but it’s not what we think it is. We have limited time and energy because we say we do.

There’s not a magic 25th hour in the day. But no one is making you go to yoga class. If your life sucks because you’re over-scheduled, do something about it. Don’t go to that obligatory party with people you don’t even like. Do you really need to enroll your kids in six after-school activities?

We schedule things in our lives to improve ourselves, and for fun. But at some point those things just start to make us mad. They’re one more chore. So stop doing them.

That’s easier said than done, but saying you ‘have to do this or that,’ especially if it’s something you hate doing, is squaring the circle. Ninety percent of the time it’s not necessary, it’s just something you’ve always done.

We should rethink the way we use our time; at work, after work and every time in between. Time is the only thing we can never get back.

New post category: Quotes worth remembering

New/old post type coming your way: my favorite quotes. Like any eccentric collector, I’ve hoarded these for years. They deserve to be freed from their bounds of cramped journals and endless Google Docs.

They’re not 140 characters, they’re not on video and they don’t have hashtags. If you still want to read, go forward! And please do check out the authors of these books and speeches.

On thought, questioning and the importance of wonder:

Photo by Patrick Hendry

Every human person is inevitably involved with two worlds: the world they carry within them and the world that is out there. All thinking, all writing, all action, all creation and all destruction is about that bridge between the two worlds.

All thought is about putting a face on experience. One of the most exciting and energetic forms of thought is the question. I always think that the question is like a lantern. It illuminates new landscapes and new areas as it moves.

Therefore, the question always assumes that there are many different dimensions to a thought that you are either blind to or that are not available to you. So a question is really one of the forms in which wonder expresses itself.

One of the reasons that we wonder is because we are limited, and that limitation is one of the great gateways to wonder.

All thinking that is imbued with wonder is graceful and gracious thinking… And thought, if it’s not open to wonder, can be limiting, destructive and very, very dangerous.

John O’Donohue

Interview with an introvert

Recently a friend asked me to be an interview subject for a class of college students. While the idea of being interviewed generally makes me break out in a cold sweat, for some reason I did it anyway.

I’m glad I did, because like any series of challenging questions, these interviews have forced me to confront my why. Why I believe what I do, why I think what I think and where I want my life to go.

Being asked this on a regular basis means I can’t avoid the question. I’d prefer to live a more comfortable and unexamined life a lot of the time. But facing these questions is good for me. I’m very comfortable speaking about my stances and issue-centered thoughts; not as much about myself.

This is a question I was asked recently and I thought I’d share my answer.

What do you want to do with your life?

Somebody once told me the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”

Photo by Davide Cantelli

Last year I went to a concert, a fairly expensive one. I was there with friends and my partner, and we had traveled hundreds of miles to see a favorite artist. We had great seats. I noticed almost everyone there watched most of the show through their phone camera.

What kind of an experience is that? We seem to have experiences now mostly in order to prove to other people that we have had experiences.

Where is the time to think, to reflect, to even process that the experience has happened?

How can we expect to die different people when we don’t fully live?

At a funeral last month I listened as friends and relatives stood up and shared memories of the man we were there to remember.

They told stories of someone who took people camping, brought treats to the bedside of someone who was sick, loaned out a truck when it was needed and baked a mean set of pies.

Not a particularly headline-worthy life, but someone who would be remembered with love as long as those friends and relatives were alive to treasure the memories.

Naturally this made me think of what I value and want for my life. None of it includes something I can document on a screen, except possibly my photos and the writing I do here.

Those count because little bits of me are in them. The rest mostly feels like running on a treadmill. It technically counts as activity, but I never really get anyplace useful or interesting.

As I look back on even my recent experiences, none of those screen moments stand out, unless they involved a good conversation with long-distance friends.

Often in the past 10 years I’ve defined a bit too much of my likability, my wit or even the way I look by the interactions I have online. Slowly but surely, I’ve been creating a life that looks good outside, but is often neglected inside.

Like a fancy downtown coffee shop with all the latest accouterments, it is very instagram-worthy. But is anyone inside having good conversation? Or do we look good to avoid feeling?

I say this only about my own experience; I can’t speak for others. But on some level, I don’t like what my life has become.

This probably sounds like a standard-grade rant against technology, which isn’t an accurate reflection of my stance. I love what technology has brought to our world. I do think we could balance it a little more with time to reflect, slow down and think about who we want to be. Then we will know what we want.

Personally I’m still deciding exactly what I want my life to look like, but I love having the mental and physical space to consider it and enjoy when I am living.

I like to think I can look back and appreciate the little things and interactions that have made it worthwhile, even if I never do anything headline-worthy.

If I never create much (I already know pies won’t make it in) but have folks at my funeral who remember I cared; if I can say I have been fully present in my own imperfect, messy life, that will be worth it.

A place to start

Turns out, though, we are still on earth, and every cell in my body has not been excruciatingly flattened into pure math. It just feels like it. (Lindy West)

It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds. The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. (Vicktor Frankl)

Some days are hard. Is anyone with me? There’s a lot to be down about right now. I’m right there with you. Like Lindy West says, “During my morning routine of opening my laptop, clicking on literally anything, and just screaming and screaming,” it often feels like too much. It’s not that things have gotten worse (except when they have) – it’s just that we know about it more.

Our world, at least in the realm of information, has expanded at an unprecedented rate in the past 150 years. The amount of information available to us is greater than it’s ever been, but our ability to do anything with that information has not kept pace.

How we got here

This isn’t an accident. We’ve created a world so full of data, one that moves so fast and changes so quickly, that we haven’t left much room for thoughtful analysis, or to step away from the constant flow of news and information. In our continuous quest for improvement, we’ve created new vulnerabilities.

In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, author Neil Postman discusses how the invention of the telegraph in the 1840s changed the way we think about news.

“Telegraphy did something that Morse did not foresee when he prophesied that telegraphy would make “one neighborhood of the whole country,” Postman says. It destroyed the prevailing definition of information, and in doing so gave a new meaning to public discourse.

Among the few who understood this consequence was Henry David Thoreau, who remarked in Walden that “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

Postman calls this change the ‘information to action’ ratio – the idea that data’s usefulness is related to what we can do with the knowledge we’ve received. When we have too much information, we get into an ‘information glut’ which leads to a diminished ability to act.

We receive more data than we can possibly act on, and that leads to a feeling that we cannot do anything to change any situation around us. Faced with that feeling, many of us withdraw altogether. We don’t vote. We don’t go to meetings or talk about issues that matter. We pursue entertainment and pleasure, not for fun, but to avoid our feelings.

Again, it’s important to note this didn’t come about by accident. As a nation, we purposely adopted this strategy, because it was profitable. As the news environment has changed, this trend has accelerated.

“The foresighted among the nation’s publishers were quick to see where the future lay, and committed their full resources to the wiring of the continent,” Postman says.

“It was not long until the fortunes of newspapers came to depend not on the quality or utility of the news they provided, but on how much, from what distances, and at what speed. James Bennett of the New York Herald boasted that in the first week of 1848, his paper contained 79,000 words of telegraphic content – of what relevance to his readers, he didn’t say.

Only four years after Morse opened the nation’s first telegraph line in 1844, the Associated Press was founded, and news from nowhere, addressed to no one in particular, began to crisscross the nation. Wars, crimes, crashes, fires, floods- became the content of what people called “the news of the day.”

“As Thoreau implied, telegraphy made relevance irrelevant. The abundant flow of information had very little or nothing to do with those to whom it was addressed; that is, with any social or intellectual context in which their lives were embedded. Coleridge’s famous line about water everywhere without a drop to drink may serve as a metaphor of a decontextualized information environment: In a sea of information, there was very little of it to use.

A man in Maine and a man in Texas could converse, but not about anything either of them knew or cared very much about.”

So what’s a well-intentioned news consumer to do?

See it for what it is. Be a smart reader. Recognizing this pattern is the first step to breaking free of it. As a journalism major, I believe it’s extremely important to follow the news and to stay aware of both current events and long-term trends. But it’s also important to filter the news. If we don’t actively control what we are reading and watching, it will control us.

Today’s content is designed to be addictive, attention-grabbing and flashy, but not often substantive or useful. It can be biased, sometimes through overt discrimination and the perpetuation of stereotypes and other times because it simply leaves voices out of the discussion.

People who are not at the table are not missed, because they never get up to leave. When consuming news, ask yourself: “Who wrote this? Who is not being discussed or interviewed? Who benefits from this story/situation?”

Analysis and longer stories might be more worth your time than hot takes or reactive pieces. This is not to say good writing can’t be found in short amounts or good information on video. But ask yourself – how easy is it to present a complicated situation, like a war, in a minute-long segment? Are you getting the whole story and the context? Probably not. Read more.

It’s okay to take a break. Eat a pint. Drink a pint. Laugh. Watch bad TV. Self-care is how we keep from going over the edge. Don’t go away forever. We need people who care to be involved. If all the committed, involved, and compassionate citizens stay home, who will be running things? Whoever shows up. More often than we’d like to admit, simply being present is a qualification. It gives you a voice.

Don’t buy the lie that you can’t do anything. Remember the information glut. Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.

One of the ways oppression works is that corrupt people in power try to keep other people from thinking they have any agency. It makes their job a lot easier, because they don’t have to keep you down. You keep you down. But you have power. You have a voice – a circle of friends and family who listens to you. You can be part of collective action. Small kindnesses add up.

To put myself through college, I worked as a nurse’s aide. I earned minimum wage. I wore a pink polyester uniform and I dealt with the elderly and the dying, ignored people who went years without seeing a loved one, who died alone. When I speak of this job, I never impress anyone. I am not understood to be a virtuous person. Rather, I am understood to be working class.

I loved this difficult, low-paid work not out of any masochistic sense of personal elevation through suffering. I loved it because I physically and emotionally touched people every day, all day long; I made them comfortable; I made them laugh; I challenged them; they rose to meet the challenges. In return, patients shared with me the most precious commodity in the universe: their humanity.

I’m protesting the fallacy that to be virtuous, one must be on TV, one must be off to a meeting on how to be a better person, or one must have just come from a meeting on how to be a better person, but one can pass up every opportunity to actually be a better person.”

(Danusha Veronica Goska)

The sound of silence

For the last several years, I’ve had insomnia. Not the kind that can be fixed with pills or therapy or meditation, because I’ve tried them all. It’s the kind that comes from having more thoughts in my head than I have ways to express those thoughts, so they come out at night like energetic bats. It’s not useful either, or by now I would have come up with a cure for a disease and written the great American novel. Mostly it’s overthinking.

Also, I have misophonia. That means hatred of sound, but mostly certain kinds of sounds, like loud chewing, slurping, or pen-clicking. Arguably no one really likes those sounds (I have yet to find someone who says ‘I wasn’t sure about that date until he started slurping his soup so loudly it could be heard across the restaurant’) but people with misophonia really, really hate them. We can’t be in the same room with the sounds.

This post isn’t to give you a list of my diseases, as fun as that would be – it’s to tell you how I’ve discovered a way around them, at least a little, because I know there are more of you out there wearing headphones and drinking metric tons of coffee. I see you.

I wear headphones a lot. All the time, really. If you see me with them, it’s not personal (it could be, if you’re a pen-clicker, but let’s pretend it isn’t for the sake of our friendship.)

I hardly ever travel without them. Headphones and white noise are my barrier against the world. I feel a little better knowing they exist, since there’s currently no permanent treatment for misophonia.

There’s a price for all this connectivity, though – you may have guessed what it is.

The other night I was out for a walk. In a quiet space in the street, I pulled out my headphones and ambled down the street in silence. I immediately noticed more detail in the houses around me; animals in yards, people holding conversations over backyard fences and the sun setting in the distance. I thought of the outline for this essay. A dozen thoughts fighting for space in my head stilled and sat respectfully for a few minutes. We came to a temporary peace.

Studies abound on the effectiveness of rest breaks, downtime, adequate sleep and creative boredom – the verdicts are in, and they’re almost unanimous. We need time to not do anything.

Constantly listening to podcasts, music and the soothing noise of the rainforest (there’s an app for that) fractures the attention span, at least mine, until I don’t have the capacity to notice the world around me. I see it, but it’s like looking through a cloudy window – my ability to see it, to really notice and appreciate it, is often diminished. Not giving myself time to think and process makes it harder to sleep. Not sleeping makes misophonia worse. Something has to give.

There’s no substitute for simply being – without any other person, no matter how well-loved, without a camera to capture the moment, without headphones, with no need to check in or record my presence. I can hardly explain how freeing this is in a world where the worth of every experience depends on the ability to show it to others.

I know I’m not alone  – there must be more of you drowning in the cacophony of your own thoughts. Sleeping medicine helps a little, and I’ve been offered anti-anxiety medication, but I don’t think that’s the path for me. Leveling out my thoughts means I won’t experience the lows, but I won’t get the highs, either. (Also, one of the major side effects of most anxiety and depression medication is insomnia.) Maybe getting back in touch with silence can help you too. Maybe it won’t – we all have our own story.

I want to share mine with you in the hope that it will help someone. At least know you’re not alone – many of us are up at 2 a.m. wondering how we can achieve world peace, and if we left the car lights on. Cheers.