How it started; how it's going
Two and a half weeks in, 2023 is still the Horse Of A Different Colour that I felt it could be. I appreciate that - with another 50 to go - things are still very much in the air, but I'm hopeful.
In fact, Hope is my second word of the year. I chose it because I choose it, if you see what I mean. There is a third, and maybe that will crop up later.
By way of a new year experiment, I hid Instagram. I knew that an absolute “you shalt not scroll, nor check in upon thy friends” would result in some very unseemly, contrary behaviour so I didn’t delete it, just hid it. I told myself I could check in anytime I wanted as long as it was on my laptop and I didn’t interact. I mostly couldn’t be bothered.
I always feel guilty for even suggesting that Instagram is a bad thing, because it isn’t. It’s not neutral but it definitely has good and bad aspects. My personal issue is that my kind of brain doesn't do well there. Firstly, I find it hard to put down and easy to pick up again and again. Secondly, when I look at 100 different lives/businesses/places I will likely not be overly influenced by them but my attention will be scattered to those 100 directions with the wind. Will I get it back in time to be able to use it in any meaningful way that day? Probably not, if I’m honest. I’ll be all day-dreamy and distracted and wondering why I can’t concentrate.
I can say this with conviction now because in the short almost-three weeks that I’ve been avoiding The Scattering, the changes in my mental state have been crystal clear to me. Anything being crystal clear to me is, in itself, pretty impressive but this goes deeper.
I am holding thoughts, ideas, plans.
I am doing the inner work, daily.
I am (and this is a biggie) reading actual books, off actual pages, not just listening to audio versions.
I am able to visualise new ways and new choices (presumably because I’m in charge of what I’m looking at instead of being trapped in an algorithm).
I am being inspired by people I just found and people I’ve rediscovered.
Is it simply because I’m avoiding the visual dopamine orgy that Instagram is for me? Maybe.
Is it because I’m no longer ear-deep in the pre-Xmas sugarfest? Maybe.
Combo? Probably. I just know it works for me. At the moment.
Another thing that’s been happening in early ‘23 is that, as I’ve made a choice, I’ve almost always had something show up to tell me “You’re on the right trail”. I’m a believer in this stuff. I see signs.
I’d been thinking about how much more “solid” I was feeling. More capable of holding my own thoughts, away from everyone else’s, when Seth Godin popped up on a podcast. True confession: I love Seth Godin. I’m not even entirely sure why, I just know I do. Have done for a long time. I can listen to him for hours so - as podcasts don’t seem to scatter me if they’re really gripping - I did.
In this interview he mentioned that he has “mild ADD” and long ago made the decision to blinker himself in order to get his work done. He wanted to be great at blogging (he has blogged every day for years and years) and writing books (20 best sellers). He was tempted by social media and travel and other gigs and blah blah blah, but he knew that his levels of distraction meant he would end up just being mediocre at a few things and not great at what he wanted to be great at. He has social media channels but other people run them for him.
It would be easy to see this as Seth being overly restrictive and doing himself a disfavour. I mean, freedom, right? But the obvious pleasure and fulfilment he experiences as a result of dedicating himself to his writing (not to mention massive success) seem to me to far outweigh any short term buzz available from platform-hopping. Thanks Seth, you were my sign that day.
So that’s where January has me right now. The input is varied and interesting. Some of it involves long term plans and some of it’s just for fun. Here’s a bit of what I’ve loved so far:
This three-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light on the BBC Sounds app. The words… The performance (bravo, Anton Lesser)… Left me gazing into the dark at 3am when I finished it.
Also on the Sounds app, Uncanny. #bloodyhellKen
Daleen Kruger and her beautiful work, on Green Renaissance.
I am, once more, A Person Who Exercises.
Exercising in my normal clothes, on the kitchen rug, whenever I remember, with two ancient dogs in my face. Or perhaps in the garden, in muddy walking boots before I go back indoors after a walk. Game changer.
Using my phone timer to walk for 15 minutes and then turn around and head home. My back won’t yet allow any more, but next week it’ll be 16 minutes and back. Making this a habit and being okay with it is very challenging for me, but slow discipline/devotion is where I’m at with my health and well-being now. Not just for a month or two, but forever.
Doing Mitlé Southey’s Circle Skills course. So inspiring.
Scotland’s Sacred Islands starting all sorts of conversations in our house.
Candice Brathwaite and Coco Sarel’s Closet Confessions bring wisdom, joy and publicly howling with laughter unless you’re careful with your listening environments. 25/10.
This newish book by my Reiki teacher. I always circle back here.
Margaux Jones’s Crow tarot. A daily user of MJ’s crow oracle, I decided that this year could be the year that I finally click with tarot. If it has crows. So I had the deck and the guidebook for Christmas and I pull/study a card a day. You can’t have too many crows.
Last but by no means least, this show. I love Taika Waititi more than I perhaps should and now I’m obsessed with Blackbeard and Stede.
What’s getting you through these winter days or distracting you from the summer sun (ignore my gritted teeth please)? Care to share?