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note to self: go outside

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau

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My phone died recently. Not like died because of its charge — permanently died. I'm not the only one whom this has happened to, I'm sure, and this isn't a complaint. Rather, it's an observation on how different the landscape of my life has been without it. I've been reading more, watching more TV, doing less doomscrolling. I found that I've missed my phone a lot less and simultaneously a lot more than I expected. And I've been noticing a difference in my mental state. My mental health is, apparently, linked in part to the device I hold in my hand 99% of the time. Who knew?

However, it's still been challenging lately, for more reasons than just my phone, and my sister invited me to go outside with her. That's something I don't do often enough, even though I'm wired to appreciate nature in my very bones. Sometimes my chronic pain gets to be so great that I forget there's a whole world outside the four walls I'm living in. Sometimes I can't leave my bed, sometimes I can't leave the house for weeks at a time. But even if it's just getting out to the front porch: sitting outside, breathing in the air, existing in the same universe as everything else — that can make you feel more alive. I forget that a lot of the time.

As I sat there, with nothing but me and my own thoughts, I found my mind wandering, to my novels, characters, and blog posts I wanted to write. My head has been feeling so full, and oftentimes I don't feel like I have the space to be creative when I'm anxious or going through something (and the past year has been a lot to handle). And yet as I sat there, I felt something I don't often feel: clarity and creativity. There was nothing to distract me or hold me back from my imagination running wild. It's similar to how I felt as a kid when I would run around outside with my siblings, before I was tethered to the phone in my hand. Or how I felt last summer, when I kept an eye on a couple of toddlers in their backyard for hours at a time, sitting under a big tree as the sun filtered through, thinking about all the novels I wanted to write. The feeling of creativity in my mind was familiar, just like slipping on an old, worn jacket. I felt like myself again.

Usually, I tend to come up with my best creative ideas when I have a migraine. That's because I'm laying in bed, no phone or laptop to distract me. My eyes are closed or I'm staring at the ceiling, and I'm trying my very best not to spiral into anxiety so I don't make the pain worse. Instead, I let my mind wander into positive territory — imagination land. It's not often that I do that. A lot of times my mind circles around negative thoughts, but when I have migraines, I give myself permission to think about other things. About stories, about blog posts, about things I'll create when I'm feeling better. I get really frustrated because why does the creativity have to hit when I have a migraine pulsing through my head? And then when I do feel better, I don't end up creating any of the things that I thought of. That's because the noise creeps in — I'll look at my phone again and get distracted by a social media post or the latest news cycle. The world is so distracting, and yet when you strip away the things that don't matter, it can be so unexpectedly simple. 

I found that simplicity when I sat outside. The birds, the clouds, the sky. Nothing but me and my thoughts. I can clear my head when I put my phone away for a bit. When I sit outside. When I have a migraine. For a while, I've thought that creativity only strikes when I have a migraine, but that's not true — creativity strikes when I make room for it. When I allow myself to be creative. When I allow my mind to be clear and positive. This can be precipitated by nature; in fact, it often is. And I don't think my phone is the ultimate perpetrator my problems; in fact, my phone can also be a great tool towards my creative life. I love technology and it has been a huge gift to me. But I know I will immediately forget how good nature also is for me, and so this is a reminder to myself: go outside more. It's also a reminder to make room for creative thinking, too. Limit the noise, put my phone away every once in a while. The world can be simple and beautiful if I let it be.

Comments

  1. I always try to make a point to make a cup of tea and take it outside with either my notebook or sketchbook. I sometimes bring my phone to listen to music.
    It's so relaxing.

    ReplyDelete

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