Under the Bodhi Tree

This year off social media has been great. Sometimes I like to think of it as a long fast. During the beginning, I thought that after the year was finished, I would leave social media more permanently. As time has progressed, I feel that I’ll return to social media but with a different mindset.

Part of that mindset is how I view social media. It feels almost like a sort of candy. Something pleasurable and delicious but will upset the stomach if ingested uncontrollably. I suppose the point isn’t really control though, it’s more about awareness.

Social media is built to be addictive. It’s designed to make you ingest more and more of it. It notifies you when someone likes your content. It reminds you of birthdays. It suggests friends and what it thinks you’ll like. It connects you with others – that, after all, is why most of us use it.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media to me. It’s candy – sweet, delicious, of little nutritional value, filled with a lot of fluff – though I often crave it and ingest too much of it. If used in the right way, it can lead to meaningful connection. At it’s worst, it alienates and degrades connection.

I’m not here to rail too much on social media. After all, I’m writing on a blog. Society has benefitted greatly from social technologies. I’ve been able to connect with friends all over the world and stay in touch with family as I’ve moved around the country.

But sometimes I feel eccentric and want to run away to the mountains. A little hut with a simple diet and a lot of meditation. Just more escapism, I suppose.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a hut or a mountain to live on. And I have a job to pay bills and to keep the cat fed. Running away to the mountains isn’t really an option and maybe that isn’t a bad thing. But I still want to do something. Call it a “project-within-a-project”. Now is the time – now now now.

Although I don’t use any accounts, I still browse the web. Most of the web is a variety of social media. So the “Going Dark” project wasn’t really aimed at getting completely off social media, it was focused on minimizing ingestion of content. I don’t have a Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram – but I do use YouTube and I still look at porn. Like I said, I still use the web and the web is almost completely a myriad of social media.

For the next month, I want to focus on a sort of modern asceticism. Not the starving-oneself, but more of a fasting-to-focus-on-myself. I’m going to focus on these three values:

  1. Awareness
    • An hour of meditation upon waking and before heading to bed
  2. Health
    • Daily exercise, whether it be a short walk or a long run
  3. Simplicity
    • I’ll go vegetarian for the month and reduce my diet to simple grains and vegetables
    • I will reduce to no added sweeteners, spices, or coffee
    • No pornography, or well, sex (self, or otherwise) (NOBNOM revival anyone?)
    • No music, movies, TV, video games, or visiting Last.FM for the month

These goals may seem peculiar or like nonsense but I really feel the need to try something new. I’ve been having a lot go on in my life and, when I grieve, I have a tendency to reach for the candy.

I won’t go into each item specifically (this is a long enough post) but maybe I’ll hit on them if someone leaves a question below or if it tickles my fancy for a future post. Hope all is well for y’all and here’s to some good old fasting.

Under the Bodhi Tree 0/30 days

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The Death of Creativity / Day 39 of 365

Back in 2012, I was a creative super-machine. I finished a 365 project the year prior and had just bought my dream camera. It seemed like every week I was doing something crazy and new. I regularly dragged friends into frozen creeks, through stinging nettles, and into the wild recesses of my world. My camera lived on my shoulder and, like my mind, it was always fully charged.

I vividly remember having a late night conversation with Jake back then. He was one of the first artists that I was close to – and the one who really pushed me to create, no matter what crazy ideas I had. Our conversations usually centered around critiquing art that the other had made.

On this particular night, I was really pushing Jake to start blogging. Beyond consuming my life with photography, I had bloomed into blogging. It was almost October and I was participating in an annual ‘Blogtober’. I’ll never forget what Jake said to me that night;

“There’s so much stuff already out there already – I don’t want to contribute to the noise.”

Jake is about 5 years my senior and, unlike me, had been creating across every medium. I knew him as a photographer, a sculptor, a painter – one of the first interactions I had with him was at a church over-nighter. We went bowling and I spent the night talking with him. As we talked, he took out his sketchbook and drew a charcoal picture of me.

I think that artists typically remember their birth into art. This was the beginning for me.

When Jake said he didn’t want to contribute to the noise anymore, it was although I had woken up even though I was already awake. Suddenly I saw noise everywhere. There was too much information out in the world and I became self-conscious.

That was my death.

A weed was planted that night and I’ve spent the last 5 years pulling them up. “Is what I’m creating worth being put out there?” sprung up from the corner of my beautifully cultivated garden. Soon thereafter, “Am I really contributing or just creating junk?”. I wasn’t quick enough to pull these weeds out. I was in deep trouble when the “Am I bothering people by putting my art in front of their faces?” arrived.

Soon the weeds overtook the garden, and although I plant new flowers occasionally, they’re dwarfed by self-consciousness. At 18 years old, I didn’t have the capacity to understand this. I only saw that I was ‘making noise’. That was my creative death.

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39/365

 

 

Hiking at Waimano Valley / Day 22 of 365

Today I went out hiking with Sarah and Kevin at Waimano Valley!

It was a pretty quick 2 hour hike. The mountains were full of rain and clouds but the trees kept us dry. It was nice to have some cloud coverage; Hawaii has been really hot lately. There were 4 or 5 caves along the trail that were pretty cool to look at. They just went alongside the trail for about 100 feet each time. No idea why they exist.

Overall, it was a nice time to get away and spend some time with friends and the trees. No big fancy words today, just a few pictures. Hope you are all having a wonderful start to your week!

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Still Alive / Day 12 of 365

I’m happy to say that this transition away from social media has been with relative ease. That is to say, it’s been without drama. I’ve done week breaks here and there, I’ve even done a couple months off before – but there’s always been an anticipation to return. This time feels different; I don’t really feel like I’m missing out. I don’t even have the urge to go back.

I haven’t come to post words, though. Today I want to post a few pictures. I went out for a work “going-away” / “get together” last weekend. Despite the usual drag of going to work-related events, the boyfriend and I had a great time seeing everyone. Our office split up a few weeks ago, as people are moving away or moving to new offices, and it was nice to see everyone together in the same place. I didn’t get many photos, unfortunately, but here are the few that I did manage to snag:

 

Also, side-note, I’ve actually been carry my camera around with me somewhat often. In the past month, I’ve taken it out at least half a dozen times. I don’t think I’ve used my camera that much in the last 3 years. Woot, woot! More pictures to come!

I have to cut this post short though – it’s waaaaay past my bed time.

Again, as a reminder, I’m not posting daily for this project. The goal is to abstain from social media for 365 days and document my life and experiences as I slowly chug along. That being said, I hopefully will get another post out before the end of the weekend. Hopefully talking about some booooooooooooks. Annnnyyyyyways, long words mean I’m sleepy.

Goodnight y’all.

12 / 365