One of my big concerns in preparing for this trip was lining up music and podcasts to fill the long hours driving the long “get through it to get to the good stuff” stretches of highway.
This day’s highway was mostly driving through the hay fields to get to where I was going. I turned on my music. Thanks to streaming services it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to my own music collection. After skipping 8 songs I concluded it’s time for some new music in my collection. I turned to the podcasts I hoarded up for the trip. Those felt like sandpaper on my nerves too. I turned everything off.
The Sound of Silence
My obsession over making sure I had input was ironic considering one of the things that has been leaving me feeling drained is the constant input in my life. Almost everyday I remember to be grateful that I won the lottery with the accident of my birth. As a woman to be born in the time and place and let’s be honest, race in which I was I have huge advantages. To have had the opportunity to build a living on the internet, with the flexibility of working hours and location it allows. That is a jackpot.
And there are some challenges to it too.
My devices ding all day with notifications from social posts, from project management tools, from clients messaging me about something that just came up.
I’ve read the articles about the impact of life online can have on mental health. The addiction to the scroll, seeking that fix of the next interesting article, watching the engagement count of a post. The duality of overwhelm of so much information coming in and the fear of missing out on that great article.
As I’ve sought to manage this for myself I think about the people who manage their weight and challenging relationships with food. They can’t just go cold turkey. Neither can I. The internets are my livelihood. They say New York is the city that never sleep. The internet is the entity that never stops talking, not even for a breath.
I can’t just chuck it all and retreat to a mountain top. But at the 8th song skip I realized I had the opportunity for just what I’ve been aching for. Silence.
Meditation can happen anywhere, anytime. I decided to turn the next 4 1/2 hours into a meditative practice. Be with the silence, the scenery and my breathing and let my thoughts go.
If I had video staff there would be a montage of my mind’s response inserted here. A streaming cascade of 1’s and 0’s of all the data, thoughts pouring through my mind. Cut to a cowboy attempting to wrangle a bucking bronco. Cut to Bugs Bunny held by his big toe by a little ant. The ant smacks him back and forth face to back on the ground.
Four hours of noticing thoughts, worries, planning, writing this blog post in my mind, my lizard brain screaming, “What the hell are we doing?” and letting them go. Turning attention back to the passing scenery. Just being in the moment where I am (which is a pretty good place to be on a long drive surrounded by big trucks).
Not to get too blog posty profound I did realize my attitude about that stretch of highway was a great metaphor for my life at the moment. Driven to get where I’m going and forgetting the journey itself is the whole point. I also discovered there are many shades of beautiful in fields of grasses.
Bickering GPS Chicks
My trip was not completely silent. One of my challenges is navigating maps and directions. They say I have dyslexia, people think it is a reading problem. It is really a challenge in spatial processing. The reading challenges come in because of the spatial processing of the letters an words. Challenges in math come in because of the spatial challenges with the numbers and symbols.
I utilize every tool I can to navigate the world more smoothly. On this trip I’m using a Magellan GPS box for the long stretches. The flint ax of GPS technology. It’s great for the long stretches because it doesn’t soak up data and works outside cell signals. I’m also happy to deprive those navigation apps of that bit of intel about me.
But being geriatric tech it is a bit of a pain to program. Once a destination is in I don’t want to mess with it again. I use Waze for navigating to pit stops along the trip. So as Waze is trying to direct me off the highway to my side destination Magella is trying desperately to get me back on the highway to my ultimate destination.
Their dueling directions sounds like two bickering teenagers. Don’t know why but it was cracking me up. The thought of it as I write about it is making me giggle. By day three I’ll probably be yelling “Don’t make me pull this car over!”