April 24, 2016 by Cláudia
Life has numerous moments in which we think, and by thinking we develop who we are, we create new ideas and projects. These moments are the most unimportant/important in our lives: the ones in which we are literally doing nothing, we are letting our minds and bodies just be. It’s the only way to restore balance, to allow our “functional mind” (the one that makes daily decisions) to rest and let our imaginative mind blossom and flourish.
Our functional mind helps us on our day by day and without it we wouldn’t be able to do anything that we need to do. It remembers us to do a chore, holds the main conversations, thinks about future, budget, plans to go buy something we need, to read something we found interesting… It is our main way of survival and integration in society. It helps us make friends, develop ideas and figure out what we want in life.
But there is another part and this one is just ours. The one that only comes out when you are in your own company and lets you explore freely. Sometimes it comes out when you are looking at the sky, just being there, just breathing, sometimes when lying in bed waiting to go to sleep. There was one time I had my arms extended left to right and I felt like they went on forever, all around the Earth and came back – they were infinite. I just like to tell this because in terms of functional mind that’s pointless, but in terms of imaginative mind it was crucial. Moments like these make us who we truly are – me, someone who is hugging the whole Earth with her arms.
But there is even more to it. Letting our imaginative mind have its space aloows us to imagine change, the actual “think outside the box”. The best ideas come when we are connected with ourselves, with the environment, with the energies that surround us. And these are the ideas that could truly change the world for the better, because they are the ones that come from a place of connection and free imagination. These are the moments in which we are truly being human.
The problem is, the moments in which we are just present seem to be scarcer and scarcer. It feels like we are constantly in the past or in the future, constantly worrying about daily concerns, and it feeling the suffocating sensation that there’s no time.
I would like to argue that this feeling of not having time, of not being able to be present has something to do with how technology has changed our world. When I was a child, I didn’t have any technology to play with, so I entertained myself with a magical thing – imagination. I played with my classmates (with each other, face to face), I did my homework, I spent time with my family, I worried about peddling and whatnot but sometimes I was just with myself, my only company, and it was beautiful. I recall with the most nostalgia how I was able to be alone not “doing anything” and the beautiful thoughts that came to my mind.
It feels like today there is no space for that. We are constantly filling our time with a new screen. Have a spare hour? Go to the computer. Am too tired to study? Play Candy Crush. In the subway? Pick up my phone. And, although there is nothing wrong with some entertainment, if we add up all the hours we spend in front of a screen, the total will be so astoundingly absurd that saying we “don’t have time” will no longer make sense.
Is this accidental? I don’t know but maybe not. I truly think society is evolving to a better future, but it seems like we are all so mushy, so alienated. Sucked into screens that drain us from all our energy so that in the end all we feel like doing is to continue in front of screens. In a different dimension. Not doing much for the world we actually live in.
We are bombarded by entertainment from all fronts, constantly pulling us in to TV-shows, comedy channels on YouTube, games, social networks, and we want to explore all of them. The thing is, we can’t possible explore all this and still have space to have those alone moments. It’s all about balance but technology is invading our private space and preventing us from truly being with others, but even worse, with ourselves.
Even if we do want to change something and improve the world, we feel powerless, completely drained from our transforming energy. Seeing the news, in which we are constantly reminded of the atrocities the human being is capable of, we feel like there is no hope, forgetting how little representative that actually is, how many beautiful things are constantly happening in the world. Being constantly drawn into screens and screens that suck our energy, suck our imagination, that make us lose hours and hours of precious time, we feel always in a hurry, stressed out. There is no time to sort out ideas, there is no time to think and even if we do think, definitely there is no time to act. Things are the way they are. Nothing we can do about it. Let’s just remain entertained.
There is a really great quote (supposedly it’s from Aldous Huxley, but it’s a bit unclear) that says
The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude.
So just imagine that everyone cuts by a third the time they waste on Facebook, Candy Crush, YouTube etc. Just imagine we spend that time in thinking about new solutions to the world’s problems, new imaginative ways to make things better, connecting with others, connecting with ourselves, connecting with what surrounds us. Then being entertained doesn’t seem so brilliant after all.