Communicating is becoming very difficult. Using text on your phone is like trying to make your thoughts and feelings heard through a thick fog, at the top of a very high mountain, wearing a mask over your face. There is no way a text can be properly understood. Whatever you write will be misconstrued, even more if you use text-speak, which is a mad foreign language to me.
The same can be said of Facebook. What ever you put in that little space at the top of your page entitled: ‘what’s on your mind?’ is not likely to be properly understood by those who have the privilege of reading it. We never tell the truth in such circumstances, because we are playing to an invisible audience. When you stand in front on someone and have a conversation, you are reading all sorts of non verbal clues that will enhance your understanding of what is being said. So using text and social networking is like experiencing a sort of mild autism – you never quite get it, even though you think you do!
Even an old fashioned hand written letter gives you more information about the state of the writer’s mind than any email. You can look at the style of writing and glean something of the person communicating with you. It’s a sort of instinct – you ‘read’ them and not just the words. Even the smell of the notepaper, the stamp on the envelope, the colour of the ink can give you clues about the personality of the person sending the letter. With email and text it’s all an unknown unless you know them well, but even then they can tell you lies in a text and you have nothing to make you suspect them because you can’t look into their eyes and respond to a hunch you might have that all is not well.
Life moves so fast these days, that it’s no wonder that mental illness is on the increase. The computer age means that we are expected to move far too fast in a very short space of time. Energy must be seen to be produced. It is accountable. No time to stop and consider. No wonder therapists and councillors are so busy. You have to pay someone to sit and listen to you these days. You have to pay someone to give you time to be human! In families, with all the stresses and strains that modern life brings – commuting long distances to work and school, managing on inadequate incomes, bowing to consumer pressure, trying to keep a roof over your head, answering text after text, constant mobile phone calls, emails, a TV blaring out at you 24/7 – is it any wonder that relationships break down and people become mentally ill? No one is allowed to do nothing. You will be labeled as lazy, non productive, negative. But doing nothing now and again is essential for a healthy mind. Today every moment must be accounted for, every hour is part of a race to achieve. Why?
When I was a kid, my mother has a ‘nothing’ time every day and woe betide any of us if we encroached on it. It was between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. There was no TV to fill the minutes and no mobile to bleep at her. There was no laptop on all day and no callers during that precious hour. In the summer she would put her deck chair at the bottom of the garden facing away from the house. She took out a variety of nothing time amusements. They included her knitting, a book of poetry or some embroidery. In the winter she would curl up in her special chair in the sitting room in front of the fire and stare into the flames. Sometimes she would gaze into the distance. When we asked her what she was thinking about she would say ‘ my secret landscape’. To this day, I still don’t know where that was, but it kept her sane and I believe it did a great job of cleansing her mind and helping her cope with the unexpected death of my father, who was always on the go. She lived until she was 96.
Now, it’s so easy to get wound up and feel frantic about our lives. We always have to be doing something. Even in retirement you have to ‘keep busy’. Why? Just try the nothing time once a day. Do it for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Give your mind the chance to stand still. Find peace. It won’t happen unless you make it.
Take a few moments of nothing time now and listen to the music below. Travel down the road to nowhere. It will be time well spent…