There is something enchanting in a solo figure that simply and unpretentiously occupies our landscape. Occupies it without a phone in hand, without a newspaper, music player or whatever other form of distraction at our troubled disposal.
Imagine a person undistracted by a TV monitor, not reading a book, not anxiously seeking where to direct attention, not lost in thought, not window shopping. Imagine that comfortable and conscientious presence, countenance relaxed, body upright and loose. A person that you immediately feel invited to engage in conversation.
It’s rare to find nowadays. Maybe it’s always been the case. I’ve no reason to suspect otherwise.
However, each historical period inevitably gives manifest to new forms of distraction. On an aesthetic level, the 21st-century almost narcotic immersion in the pervasive electronic device, personally, fills me with severe repulsion.
At every waiting line I see figures contorted over touchscreen smartphones. Same at restaurants. At hikes, if unaccompanied, I see headphones in the ears, or an unnaturally quick and intense stride, often both. I see disengaged and distracted characters. (I’ve struggled with this myself recently.)
Rarely do I see a figure relaxed and present, attune to the moment, bound for no particular purpose.
Alas, these distracted figures resemble slaves. Slaves to noise, slaves to information, slaves to gadgets.
Some individuals are earnestly occupied by tangible labor. That can include, I don’t know … gardening, carpentry, stage performing, preparing a meal. Writing? Eh. I could rationalize either way.
There is an ample gray area here that I can’t quiet delineate. But we intuitively know when engaged in tangible work, or merely simulating.
But be that as it may, an overwhelming majority of solo individuals, I regret to say, project that sense of self-induced slavery … In virtually any developed region of any nation I’ve trotted over the last ten years.
Much of the time, that also includes me.
Now this mindful living paradigm has occupied the forefront of my thought for many years. (I resent that we even require a label for such a state of being, but the social dichotomy renders certain terminology necessary, and I’ve not an ample selection of words that would better radiate.)
As such, I take active measures to be that person that maintains inviting presence and willfully embraces nothingness. I’ve taken conscious life altering steps and made social sacrifices to enforce distance from the continuously growing arsenal of distractions.
Yet regretfully, much of the time, I allow myself to sink into oblivion. This follows despite my virtual disregard for pesky electronic mobilia. As I’ve conjectured, the mind has always found means to escape.
And in those careless moments, I too, invariably, must seem a wretched slave.
But I try to set an example that I want to see in others. And if I fail to inspire even a single individual in the span of my entire existence, that’s also okay. I do it primarily for my own pleasure and well-being.
For the moment, I’ll set the keyboard aside, approach the window, eye the empty neighborhood street, and try to maintain solid footing as the mind struggles to thrust off like a hot-air balloon.
Questions, comments? Connect.