Simplicity and Fun in 2021
Do you, like me, have a fantasy version of yourself? Do you have an aspiration to be a certain way? Meanwhile, someone else may aspire to be more like you. I remember speaking to a lady once in a rural part of Portugal. We were there to do yoga in the sprawling countryside with animals roaming freely around us. She told me about her painful history with anorexia — ‘everything hurt’ was how she put it. I have always been an emotional eater as I wrote about here. I tend towards being out of control rather than controlling. I have longed to be more disciplined but it has been one of my life’s missions. While I didn’t speak to that lady about my (much less problematic) relationship with food, maybe she wishes her relationship with food were more like mine.
In March, I wrote a prescription for fun! I made an intention to write a silly rhyme every day and to watch a comedic clip on YouTube every day. Mea culpa. I did not. I couldn’t legislate for fun! It began to feel like a chore to find a funny clip online or to write the rhyme; there really is no substitute for the company of others. Yet the very intention reminded me to simply have a laugh more. I used to find humour in the darkest moments. I have often looked back at that younger person and realised humour masked a lot but it also served an important purpose.
While I don’t buy into sweeping ‘children are…’ statements, I believe that many children possess an inherent spontaneity that has been stripped of many adults by time and toil. The Power of Now is a luminous book. Sadly, I have not had an epiphany like Eckhart Tolle had (…yet!). Tolle writes a ‘how to’ for in-the-moment awareness that came to him in one life-changing night. It can be difficult beyond measure to change one’s very way of looking at the world (and oneself), and to accept one’s way of experiencing the world as defective. Yet, the relentless backward and forward thinking is corrosive of happiness and essentially robs us of quality time on earth, as Tolle so eloquently details.
In February 2020, I set an intention to turn my smartphone off every night at 8:30pm. Over time, I abandoned the intention and picked up my phone to fill vacant moments — to kill boredom. Is boredom a bad thing though? I felt bored last week as I was off work and had my smartphone off for several hours every day. On the evening I began writing this post, I was sitting listening to a radio show I don’t usually listen to and I felt more at peace than I have felt in a long time (and not just because I had had a glass of Rioja and a plate of cheese and crackers!). My mind, in a less preoccupied state, unclenched.
April’s intention and new habit is to turn off my smartphone more. That may sound vague but rigidity has not worked for me, despite the effectiveness of SMART goals. My personality seems to co-operate better with broader brushstrokes.
In the spirit of simplicity, what could be simpler than sitting down of an evening listening to the radio and wondering what to do?: the dishes, laundry, read a book, write, stargaze, meditate, make art, make the bed, make out (if you’re lucky enough to have a partner): all of those activities are preferable to the inexorable, grinding effect nights with my smartphone had on me. I will happily continue to leave it in a drawer every evening.
When I own my own home – when, who knows – I plan to have a good, aul fashioned landline: a phone that only rings when someone wants to have a chat – an exciting and invigorating prospect.