A disproportionate number of conversations in our home start like this:
Me: “Honey, I heard the most amazing TED talk today!” (or podcast, audio book, interview, etc.)
My Honey: “Oh. Really?” as he subtly backs away, looking for an escape route from the onslaught of unrelated but fascinating facts, stories, and anecdotes that is sure to follow.
Now, let me be clear: my husband is a good listener. The best, in fact.
I’m quite the listener myself. I am constantly taking in information. Absorbing input. Learning and listening while I work and go about my day.
I can tell you the best time of your cycle to ask for a raise (ovulation – your communication is at its best), I can lay out a zillion different (and conflicting) Twitter strategies that I’ve never implemented, and I can tell you more than you care to know about the differences between the right and left hemispheres of your brain.
It’s not just what I listen to. It’s piles of books, magazines, and my Google reader. It’s emails from friends and readers. It’s beyond words – as an artist, I’m also constantly taking in visual work by others.
I’m a sucker for output, too. My hand compulsively reaches for my phone to Instagram every sweet moment of my life (I have a two year old, so there are many). I write. I draw. I paint. I’m in constant real life conversation with my loved ones.
I love learning, and I love making connections with other people, in real life and online. There’s nothing quite like hearing that something I’ve written or drawn has made someone else’s day better. And there’s nothing quite like discovering something that brings a tiny epiphany to my brain.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with input and output.
But there is just one thing missing from all of this.
Room for fresh ideas to be planted and grow.
Earlier this year I began unplugging for one day a week. No phone or internet or Netflix-streaming. No input or output outside of ‘real life.’ It required some planning each week, but it’s been so worth it.
I’ve got the unplugging bug. I want more.
Because I’ve realized that it’s not just about the technology. It’s about the information. It’s about the chatter.
It’s about having the same deep conversation every few days with my husband about the certain changes I’d like to create in my life, without getting any further clarity about how to sort them out and implement them. Because talking will only get me so far. There’s no space for the answers to come forth.
It’s about taking in more business or personal development information than I could possibly implement, from more business or personal development gurus than I could possibly name.
It’s about not taking time to examine my trajectories in life. Am I acting out of pure momentum and habit, or am I acting out of deep, unadulterated desire?
I’m on a quest for quiet. More space for the unknown to appear. Dialing down the earbuds, the stack of books, the screens, the email, and even (heavens!) the Instagram.
I think this has implications for my creativity – and yours – on all levels. Life, work, art.
Outside the sphere of anyone’s influence, what is important to us?
What does our work look like if we are not creating for anyone but ourselves?
What dreams do we not even know we had…if we have some space to dream them?
What thoughts emerge if we take a break from imbibing other people’s thinking?
What comes from a day unplugged and unfettered by chatter?
How does a sweet moment feel if we don’t record it?
What’s does completely free, wordless, and quiet time feel like?
This is my experiment. Does it speak to you?
How do you create space in your life for your own deep thoughts and voice (or total wordlessness!) to appear?