My Days These Days

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Someone asked how I get through these days where people are forced to act like introverts.

I start my morning early, in the dark with a lamp behind me, reading. The light creeps into the world and begins coloring it with palettes beyond our eyes interpretation. The spectrums clash magnificently with sunrise. This is the signal of my first break.

The desk suffers only the electronics of reading devices, dominated by paper and ink. Different books grace it’s cedar surface over time as the world revolves, as mankind’s world spills through like the spill of an oil tanker, suffocating what is beneath it.

Our minds can easily become as cluttered as the world inherited from and modified by other cluttered minds. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have found it to weigh me down since my teenage years, so I normally shake it off with some free writing – something I call ‘pre-writing’ these days. I sit and write what’s on my mind until there is nothing on my mind, or something I find extraordinarily interesting pops up.

The pen scribbles on paper, these notes kept on the desk until something inspires cleaning the mess – and I leaf through them to see if there’s anything that is worth keeping. Generally, no, but sometimes there’s something worth fleshing out. This continues until it doesn’t, and normally it gets stacked onto the pile of loose sheets that accumulate. Today, it made it over to the ‘Keyboard desk’, the place where I interact with the world.

I’ve been speaking with a few people here and there who suddenly find themselves forced introverts while Trinidad and Tobago goes through increasing lock downs and now a State of Emergency because of the Covid-19 resurgence, and they seem desperately out of sorts at times.

algorithmsfearWhatsApp chats flare up as the ever present harbinger’s of doom inundate them with every possible negative thing that they can share. As if the world wasn’t challenge enough, there are some who just want other people’s noses in it. “See! You’re depressed? Frustrated? Well, here, get more depressed, more frustrated!” seems the intent of those who, in reality, who should have been tested for their neuroses before being given license to use a communication device.

The sources of all this media fodder creeps in through algorithms that likely feed everyone’s favorite neuroses. I often tell people that if they are surrounded by information that sucks, maybe they’re looking for information that sucks. Garbage in, garbage out. 

The mouthpieces of politicians will also have their say in these chats, whether they are knowing or unknowing mouthpieces, and the words of politicians are as distant to me as the worlds they live in are to my world. Our worlds rarely collide, and when they do I generally roll my eyes and sigh.

Also, I get copies of the local newspapers in these chats, in PDF form, and I wonder how that has happened for years when it’s a violation of copyright laws. For those of you old enough to remember the kind thoughts you might have had when someone propped open the newspaper box so you didn’t have to fish for coins, screwing over the owner of the box that day as people continue propping it open. That is why you rarely see those boxes now – and may be why physical papers are doomed. We just love sharing things, even when someone says they don’t belong to us.

People are anxious. They’re picking at any little bit of information they can find and magnifying it beyond original meanings. News from trusted sources is slow, news from untrusted sources is fast, and social media seems more of a curse these days than a blessing. People want fast media like they want fast food, and like fast food, they generally don’t care too much about the service. The rude person as a cashier at a fast food place runs rampant even while the lines for fast food stay constant. The same holds true of crappy media.

Why this love affair exists defies me. I never understood it.

The metaphor extends well into how healthy fast food is. What fast food does to your body, bad media can do to your mind.

Then, I suppose, are the editors that demand 4,000 words for a 400 word story because they need to cover more space in a newspaper or because their Search Engine Optimization require it – “and would you mind adding these keywords into the story?”

I have friends fighting anxiety. I advise them to watch comedy on YouTube, or do something that keeps them away from their phones. The reality is not that horrible, really. Cut down on physical human interaction, you’ll find the people that actually matter most in your life and, hopefully, treat them appropriately. The grocery story cashier. The doctors. Maybe the police, always the pharmacist for those tied to their life or quality of life through the threads of chemistry, pharmacology. You may be actually happy on the odd occasion you run into someone you normally would avoid, simply for that small bit of human contact, and appreciate them that much more.

Those are the relationships that tide us through some of the most difficult times. People who have not truly seen difficult times do not understand this – you’ll know them by their spoiled demeanor. Those who look down on others from a height, not realizing how fragile their shells are until they fall from that height and find no one to catch them. All the king’s horses, all the king’s men…   

Isn’t it peculiar that these are the jobs paid small amounts, but the non-essentials make better money? Odd, our priorities.

I look out onto the road outside during the hours when traffic is normally high on a Monday morning. It’s quiet, the odd car dashing sprinting where they were doomed to crawling amongst the non-essential masses before. The birds shout and grow quiet, surprised at their own volume in the relative stillness.

Misty Outline
Illustration by Odilon Redon (1840-1916), France

It is about that time to write, for I have uncluttered now. The world as it is accepted by so many has floated away, the mind unfettered can do it’s work as it was meant to, and after 6 hours, my work will begin after some coffee, a read of where I left off, some bouts of procrastination, etc.

I will write til I can write no more, and then I will nap, and then I will write more or try to. If even I write one page for the day, I will sit at the desk for at least 8 hours today, occasionally stopping to look for a reference, obscured in my mind, or to look up something to make sure I’m writing something accurately or as accurately as I can.

The darkness will come, eventually, the light growing weaker as the day streams to an end. Tomorrow, the day will be the same.

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