How do we pretend to be busy before the internet age? I happen to read that question posted by a random user when clicking through Yelp’s website. Certainly that question was meant as a joke, but it got me thinking. It’s true that there’s always status to update, thoughts to tweet, photos to upload, places to check-in, blogs to write, books/movies/restaurants/hotels/purchases to review. We don’t need to pretend that we are busy, because we are busy. We only need to pretend that all we do in the online world is worth doing.
During the last few weeks I’ve been cutting down on my online activities, and one of the main reasons is because I feel like I always have so many things to do. I miss the times when I can totally relax, connected to my inner being and not concerned about doing things. I remember when I was younger I can spend my Sunday afternoon laying down, listening to nice music from the radio while watching the white clouds lightly float against the blue sky, daydreaming, and falling asleep. Wow, I remember how nice it was but I almost forgot how to do that – because I’m always busy.
Why then, am I always busy? What are the things that keep me busy? Some days ago I decided to find the answer by creating the not-to-do list, instead of the usual to-do list. My goal was to simplify things by discerning things that I really should take care of, and things that can go on without me. It’s predictable that my online activities easily go to the not-to-do list. And turns out it wasn’t that hard not to tweet or not to keep checking my Facebook. I also have no problem of letting go of my habit of writing restaurant reviews on Yelp.
But I’m a WordPress sucker, and there’s always something that I want to write about. Last Wednesday, even though I know I have decided to limit my in-front-of-screen time, I still tried to write a blog post about International Women’s Day (IWD). I was tired after the long day at work, but I really want to publish the post before Thursday, March 8th, the d-day. So I kept writing, until suddenly my laptop froze for unknown reasons. Normally I would go nuts, but that night I just laugh to myself. I’ve learned from past experiences that unpredictable things like this usually happen when I don’t listen to myself. So okay, even though my laptop went back to normal again after not responding for about half an hour, I decided that the world can still celebrate the IWD even though I don’t write a post about it. My dreams for gender equality are not shrinking just because I don’t get the chance to write on IWD. Then I went to bed, sleeping peacefully right after that frozen laptop incident.
March, I think, is a really good time to back away and take some retreat. This month, many Catholics/Christians are observing the 40 days of Lent by fasting, doing some self introspection and avoiding things for self-indulgence. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with Nyepi, Balinese Day of Silence which this year falls on March 23rd.
In Balinese Hinduism, Nyepi day has four rituals (Catur Brata Penyepian) which guide the Hindus to step back from the world for one full day. They are Amati Geni (not using fire nor turning on lights, which also means that they are not cooking and eating), Amati Karya (not doing any work), Amati Lelungan (not traveling), and Amati Lelanguan (avoiding any entertainment). During Nyepi day, the whole island shuts down in retreat, literally cuts off from the rest of the world. Streets are deserted, even the airport and seaports are closed. Tourists are expected to observe the day by staying inside their hotels for the whole day. My sister lives in Bali and I’m hoping that she can write about her first-hand experience observing the holiday, which I think is really interesting.
Retreat, silence, self-introspection is something that’s open to all, you don’t have to be a religious person to observe it. I, for one, am called to do this now so I can join the grass, trees, flowers and all my fellow creations in the rebirth of spring.
So after all the talk about unplugging from the online world, why this post then, am I relapsing? Perhaps, but most importantly I feel that this blog deserves an explanation for my future disappearance. I’ll be back whenever I feel like it, whenever I’m ready, but for now I really need to search for some silence so I can be attuned to my inner being again. Deep down I know that She is the existence that really matters, not the outer person that always dominates whenever I’m plugged the online world. And friends, since I can’t google how to be connected to her, I better log off now.
Image credit: The gorgeous photo of Bali was taken by my sister, Asti aka jepun kuning.