At some point this weekend, my Internet went down, and stayed down for a full day.
Fortunately I didn’t have any research to do and wasn’t anticipating any emails; I made a quick run up to the coffeeshop on the corner for a brunch and a quick email check, and other than that, I thought maybe it’d be a good thing overall. I do find myself idly surfing the net at night, and find myself reading fewer books and doing less writing, generally doing less things. Maybe I’m a bit addicted, I thought. So this was the perfect chance to maybe get some writing or knitting or some other task done.
But then a couple hours into it I was watching TV, kicking myself and wondering why I was squandering the down time. I even got my laptop handy so I could write a bit, but it still ended up sitting on my coffee table while I idly watched through first one weekend movie, then another.
This is not how I used to spend my downtime, I thought. For nearly three quarters of my life the Internet didn’t even exist, and I got on fine without it. I did a lot, in fact – I went on small road trips, explored more of the city, I would read, I would just open a notebook and write. I did things. I was able to live without access to a web site. And yet now, it had only been a couple hours and I was fidgeting like a junkie.
I got up and did a little puttering in the kitchen, TV still on, thinking about this. Why was I so sucked into this? I do have a blog, yeah, and I do have my writing for other blogs. I had to have some kind of online presence, but this was a little more and troubling. And I’d already noticed that it was affecting my writing in general; it’s actually harder for me to write than it used to be. I’ve found some of my old journals and some of the imagery I’ve come up with is astounding. I was more fluent and verbose, and today…honestly, the words come hard. Even here.
I was in the middle of stirring up some dough for cookies while I thought about this, and was in the middle of creaming butter and sugar together when I had an epiphany so striking, I froze:
I’ve gotten unused to the contents of my own head.
I’ve gotten so used to filling my head with something else right away that I don’t give myself the time to clear a space in my head and see what comes up from inside to fill it. And my reading these days has gotten to be just quick web articles and lists, nothing longer.
I stopped the mixer and turned off the television, and the dough needed to chill several hours before I could bake, so I tucked that away, got a book and spent the rest of the afternoon in silence, reading, and trying to clear space for my own head.
….I should add the epilogue that the only thing my brain did the rest of that afternoon was to endlessly play Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here for me. But, okay, baby steps.