Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Emerging from the lines - How to Live a Life

I was sitting on my bed drawing, and pondering the meaning of life, or something like that. I took this little iphone photo of my sketch and then manipulated it in the Instagram app, because somehow I have not gotten tired of doing that, in spite of the fact that quite possibly no one but me actually wants to look at them. That's fine, I'm doing it for me. Oddly sometimes I can see things more clearly in a photo or scan of my art than I can looking at the art itself. I think it helps me step back a little and look at the "big picture" - whereas normally I am so detail oriented that it takes a conscious effort to derail that and bring all the details together in a coherent way.

What I was thinking about life, and the title I chose for this photo - Emerging From the Lines - dovetailed nicely. Life is like that a lot. My subconscious mind is always way ahead of me. something is down there, aware of the big picture before the rest of my mind can catch up.

I was raised to value intellect and quantitative reasoning. This was further enhanced by all the science I took in school. I do strongly value that approach to life. But I've found it does not actually work for everything. When it comes to anything too complex to analyze or anything subjective, my intellect leads me astray. Possibly partly because I can construct a rational argument to argue myself into or out of so many different things. If I go with my feelings or my "gut" I tend to come out better on certain types of things.

Like how to live your life. My brain generally does not give me very useful guidance in how to live my life. My feelings do better.

Take something like media. The way I feel after an hour of media exposure is very different depending on what that exposure is. Some of that seems fairly logical but some of I can't explain. I respond differently to:

An hour of TV
An hour of reading
An hour of listening to music
An hour of listening to an audio book
An hour of walking
An hour of drawing or painting.

It seems sort of obvious in a way but when you break it down it's not. If I spend an hour of reading about how Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a double, I feel completely different than I feel if I spend an hour reading a book. Even reading something more literary online still does not feel as peaceful or satisfying as reading a book. (I recently read Helen Keller's 1st book online. That was, I will admit, more satisfying than reading about Paul's clone.)

If I spend an hour watching a documentary or a really good movie I feel better than watching anything on TV (I should clarify - I feel better than watching TV shows on DVD. I don't have cable and never watch TV other than occasionally local news show on my television. I do watch a few televisions shows on DVD. I got rid of cable to save money and I have not really missed it. At first I missed lying around and watching documentaries but I've started getting them from the library and making sure to try to always have a few on hand.)

An hour of listening to an audio book might in theory feel the same as an hour of TV / DVDs, but it doesn't. It's more peaceful. Maybe engaging fewer senses at a time leaves one more relaxed. Music is about as peaceful as an audio book but leaves me in a different mood.

Walking is always good, probably partly because it takes me out of my head and gets me literally grounded, and partly because I live someplace so beautiful. It's amazing how utterly exhausting it is to walk from one end of the mall to the other, compared to how hiking feels. Not that I hike often, but I used to more! Hiking can be exhausting, but in a different way, and it takes longer to get exhausted than walking around a mall.

So I think I will continue to endeavor to figure out what feels right, and try to do it. That sounds completely simple, so why isn't it? It's so easy to go through your day doing what you happen to do, or what you think "one does" or "one ought to" and never actually consider what would actually feel good. Especially because doing what would feel good often seems to involve a tiny little effort to get past the inertia before it feels natural. And it's so much easier to read about how laptop computers cause arthritis than to make that little effort.

(Note: I do not think Paul died in 1966. I have no reason to think that laptop computers cause arthritis. I can't help noticing arthritis predates the invention of laptop computers. I can't rule out the notion that they could POSSIBLY be a factor but I am not convinced they could be related to arthritis any more than desk lamps or toasters are.)

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