My world is full of distractions. I have worked very hard to minimize them and re-focus my attention on only positive and productive things, but…it’s very hard! It really should not be and I understand my own hypocrisy in writing an on-line blog about being disconnected from the mainstream. I get it, I promise. This is the way that I chose to approach my issues with attachment and outside influences because I enjoy writing and I am still very active on the internet. One day things will be different, I hope. For now, I am only limiting my exposure to all the things that I want to detach from. Last month I made a list of the things I want to disconnect from and why. Since then, I have made some improvements and I have also learned what I need to work on. Here are my every day difficulties with the items on my list:
I have done very well with this one. I have had a few days when I am feeling low and just sit on the couch for a few hours watching whatever is on, but for the most part, I am television-free. I watch sports, but only a few live games a week. I am a Football and Baseball fan. That will never change.
I had already made large improvements with this before I made the list. Since then, I think I have improved a bit more. One thing I have noticed is that my commentary and posts have taken on a more serious and mature tone. I have cut down on a lot on the bullshitting that I used to do on there. My distance from social networking hasn’t been a problem.
Internet (Non-productive use of it)
This one has been perhaps the most difficult challenge. Boredom at work causes my mind to stray and before you know it, I am up to date with the latest viral videos, headline news, sports scores, and NPR Stories. I know that the only way to improve on this is to take simple action and walk away from my desk, but it’s not very easy for my curious mind.
This has not been difficult and the biggest reason for this is that I bought some French Language audio CDs to listen to on my drive to work. Now, instead of hearing morning chatter and over-played music, I am re-learning a language. The only time I listened to the radio at home was in the shower, but I no longer do that. I don’t miss it.
Gossip (in any medium)
I have never been a gossiper, but it seems that everywhere you turn you get blasted with the latest scandal story, photos, or video. The Yahoo front page is notorious for that. I used to click on the cheesy headlines out of curiosity (my inquiring mind fails me), but I now restrain myself in order to not fall into their advertisement-heavy traps.
You can’t always tell where a conversation is going to go when you begin chatting with friends. Sometimes it slowly turns negative and other times it’s there in an instant. I don’t like to talk about other people or gripe about life and I have learned that it is OK to say that you don’t want to talk about something with the person you are talking with. I understand that people need to vent and I am OK with that when it is a close friend, but only then. I don’t want to hear pessimist ideals or gossip, ever. A few months ago, one of my co-workers opened up to me about his divorce, his hatred of women, and how he now visits a brothel in Tijuana regularly. Mind you, we have never been buddies, nor have we even worked on a project together. We just happened to be sitting near each other at the time. The guy scorched sections of my mind that are still recuperating and I have not seen him the same way since.
Yup, this one should be easy. It’s not. Maybe it’s the strategic placement (I am convinced that these companies hire social and logistic experts) of the restaurants or the bright colors…oh, you bright beautiful colors… Maybe it’s my laziness. Yeah, it’s totally my laziness. Either way, I struggle with this one daily. I behave for long periods of time and then fall off the wagon. If I can get this one under control then it will be my greatest personal achievement. It kinda sucks that eating healthier is harder for me than it was to complete the world’s toughest half-marathon.
Easy. This one fell under the umbrella of getting rid of clutter. I was a big fan of Guitar World and Rolling Stone magazines once, but they are literally heavy with advertisement and I guess I’m just over it. Most of the music I listen to is not covered in those magazines anyway, so it’s all good.
The Club Scene
Another easy one. Mostly because I feel too old to get as silly as I used to. I also have less of a tolerance for idiots and shallow women. This one is handled. Check!
Those sneaky, mathematical, immoral advertisement companies have managed to weasel their way into most everything I do. It’s one of the biggest reasons I am disconnecting from so many things. I want my decisions to be my own and not influenced by “clever” advertisement. I am disgusted by how low they will go to get people’s information and in the process violate our privacy. Dumpster divers! However, we do put ourselves in these situations when we throw our information at any chance we get for an on-line discount. I took this challenge on by creating a fake alias and e-mail to use when I have to include personal information on-line. It’s working so far. I just never check that e-mail.
Cultural Expectations (I am Hispanic)
I am still vulnerable to my family’s opinions. Sometimes I feel like I have failed my parents by remaining single and selfish when they so badly want grandchildren. I think they’d even accept a kid out of wedlock just to have the visual of the next generation. I don’t like spicy foods and it still bothers me when people crack jokes saying that I must be adopted because I am supposed to be Mexican. Supposed to be? What does that mean anyway? Even second generation Mexicans who don’t speak Spanish look at me funny because of my hobbies and interests. I can’t mention my love for sailing without some kind of wetback joke. They’re not even funny! I try not to let it get to me, but it does sometimes. I am working on it.
This year, I have sold a lot of my personal things. It has made room in my garage and put money in my pocket. I haven’t made any major purchases outside of traveling and other experiences. The last material item I purchased was a pair of barefoot running shoes that I use when I am sailing. I am doing very well with minimizing my material possessions.
I have issues with attachment, if you have not noticed yet. My past is something I have a very hard time dealing with every day. I think of decisions I have made, people I have let down, and my ex-fiancee. I haven’t been able to put away those bad feelings as much as I have tried. They never stay down. It feels like I am trying to bottle smoke in jars so I can put them away. I set very high standards for myself and I have become, in my own opinion, a very good man. Perhaps it is because of this that I look at the person that I was so judgmentally. I can’t turn back time, but I really wish I could sometimes.
My Expectations of the Future
As I mentioned earlier, I have very high standards for myself. Because of this, I set very high goals for myself and I usually achieve them. That is not a problem. The issue I have is with living in the moment. I miss out on so much because I am constantly thinking about the past and the future. Part of the problem is that I feel disconnected from my inner-child, the little Lego-building dreamer that saw magic in everything. I used to stare at things as a child admiring all their beauty and wondering how they were made and how they worked. Everything from a leaf to a mechanical clock would captivate me. Now, I just think about how I could have done something better or how I am going to take on a challenge. The present is never on my mind. I am rarely surprised and that really sucks because I love surprises. So much of my time has gone into getting my ducks in a row that I missed out on the fun worrying about the outcome. This made me a reliable Marine in my military years and it has kept me afloat in normal life, but I am not as creative as I once was when my mind had the freedom to run wild. I want to appreciate what I have a lot more and focus on what is before me even when it is not as interesting as what may come. I want to live and love with my eyes wide open in the present.