I spend far too much time reading interesting articles on the Web. The current moment can be so boring. I mean, nothing is happening, and my mind needs to be occupied. If left to itself my mind ruminates, which is never a good thing, so I try to keep it occupied by worthless reading.
It would be great to live in the present, to notice everything around me – the smells, colors, sounds, movement, the feel of the air and the ground, and the feelings in my body. Meditation is supposed to help with this, and I once did a 10 day Goenka silent meditation retreat. But about the only thing I really remember from it is the concept of anicca – the impermanence of things. Oh, and I remember Goenka’s interminable and irritating chanting at the end of his video talks. I told myself it was part of his method to teach me about annica – both his chanting and my irritation would be impermanent.
So, I spend a lot of time reading articles on the Web because I get bored with the present moment and want to keep my mind occupied. But reading articles also prevents me creating.
Creating is easy if there’s something I really want to express but otherwise it’s difficult. I tend to take the easy way, because it’s easier, but I’d like to take the harder way because it’s more satisfying.
So my goal is to sort of follow Raymond Chandler’s rule, sometimes known as the Nothing Alternative:
“He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. He can look out the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor. But he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks. Write or nothing…… Two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.”
I’m modifying this to say that I don’t have to create, but I can’t get on the Internet to read. This will force me to create or do some useful action or talk with people or try to be present. At least, that’s my hope.
I’m also modifying my modification to say that I can get on the Internet once a day to read mail. Or maybe twice a day. And to read and post to Facebook. And I’m allowed to read and send text messages. And maybe I’m allowed to follow links in the emails I get from Quartz so I can read the articles they mention. And perhaps in the evening I can read articles on The Atlantic.
Oh dear, what started being a bright-line rule (a clear, unmistakeable boundary), is now rather murky.