I’ve been pondering how, at many points in history, we had, what seemed to be, genius’s born every minute. Coming up with and revolutionising theories in all manner of fields that completely shifted the way we understood life. Now it seems as if someone has ripped up the handbrake, we have made minor adjustments but nothing like before, no individuals like the Telsa’s, Freud’s, Jung’s or Nietzsche’s of times gone by.
I wonder what happened. Has all the chaos in our lives now made it hard to focus or find clarity?
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell
My thoughts are that we no longer sit with our own ideas, and draw conclusions as we used to, previously we were freer from constant connectivity and interruption. Questions are now answered within seconds, facts are within arms reach of being checked (albeit controversially). Even as I write this, I’ve had to place my phone in a separate room and have taken refuge on the verandah, drenched in the late afternoon sun. And even then, I notice my mind wander to what notifications may await me.
During the great depression, Joseph Campbell spent 5 years living alone in a cabin in the woods, reading mythological tales for 9 hours a day from all manner of societies and taking notes. From these he went on to develop “the hero’s journey” which became the guidebook for storytelling to this day, influencing the likes of George Lucas and Jim Morrison. That sort of dedication to a passion project is something we seem to struggle to immerse ourselves in these days. We are lucky if we can clear a weekend, let alone bring ourselves to stay off our phones for the duration (speaking from personal experience here).
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell
The battle for our attention seems to be leaving us void of major breakthroughs and developments. We are more knowledgeable than ever but we haven’t the mental capacity or time/space to absorb the information to know how best to use it. We have become more intelligent and far less wise. There has no doubt be other factors at play, food quality, sleep quality, even our tap water contains chemicals which block out ability to expand our ideas.
In an effort to try to regain some of this space I have a morning routine in which I’ve been using “morning pages” for a while now. A practice of writing 3 handwritten A4 pages each morning. Mostly it’s just whatever is on my mind at the time, to-do lists, recounts of dreams etc. It sounds tedious, but it clears my head and occasionally gems come through from “somewhere” often as reframes of ideas or guidance. I think these little nuggets of gold are a byproduct of that space I’ve been cultivating. After journaling, I try to do 10-20min of meditation and some light stretching before turning my phone off flight mode.
This Christmas break (summer here in NZ) I plan to recapture a little more of this space for reflection and creation. Step clear of the constant chatter and connectivity with others and cleanse my mind and body in an effort to try to rediscover my own personal truth by removing some of the muddiness. How far I will take this I’m still uncertain, but it will definitely involve a restriction on podcasts, and social media, and an increased amount of time spent in nature. I look forward to seeing if anything comes up.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell