September 7, 2014

Non-stimulation

The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less.

I was led to this great saying by Annie Dillard by another post at Brain Pickings, this one by Seneca about the shortness of life.

These present another useful spproach to a problem I've been struggling with for a while, coarsely, carving me time out of a life that seems to demand more and more involvement, more and more busyness, more and more productivity—more and more doing with less and less time available for enjoying, thinking, being. I've been introduced to Sabbath renewal, internet sabbath, unplugging, quiet, and slowness. Even though I feel drawn to all these approaches, I feel most comfortable with the approach suggested by Scott Belsky—"windows of non-stimulation.

In a world of twitter, email, endless texts, internet wonder (and now Medium!), create windows of non-stimulation in your day and life - whether through habits or rituals, when you can tune out of everything else and tune into yourself.

I don't feel comfortable with ignoring the demands of life with a regular, ritual-like obeservance, though I have to admit I've read lots about the importance and value of observing a routine and ensuring through routine that you're not distracted from what's really important by a steady flow of trivial tasks and details.

Now Seneca suggests a new frame for my thoughts—don't consider just what I'm trying to do; start from considering the shortness of life and see where my thoughts lead me.