Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lessons from Indonesia, pt. 1 - Cut out the Distractions

Monkey here.

After returning from Indonesia, I didn't really expect to experience any culture shock returning to San Francisco. I don't really culturally fit into the rigors of Indonesian communal culture, and finding food that was vegetarian (let alone vegan) was pretty difficult at times, especially since I didn't have access to a kitchen where I could cook things myself. On the plane ride home, I missed my iphone (had it switched off the whole trip), my email, digitally painting or working on websites and the such (we left our laptop and tablets at home), and painting (we just brought our sketchbook and cameras and a hand full of color pencils and pastels).

However, after recovering from some jetlag, I realized how distracted I got as soon as I got back online and jacked in. Emails to read and respond to, facebook posts, uploading photos from our trip, signing up for new artist websites, digital painting, video games, television shows, youtube, ohmygoshtherearesoooomanydistractions now!

While one might argue that it just takes some getting used to again, I was freaking out earlier today as I wasn't used to having to actually do anything. As a guest of a family that provided food and transportation constantly (which can be more frustrating than one might guess), I realized that I just sort of went with the flow and with the notion of choice taken out of things, I just went with it. It was literally like a dream, where you don't get much input, you just sort of go along for the ride most of the time.

Our privileged American life (and seriously, just the fact we can drink our tap water is pretty privileged) is full of distractions designed to keep us bouncing around and not doing our true life's work. We're supposed to stay sedated on great television and celebrity gossip and playing video games that really don't do much for us in life besides take our time away from doing real, meaningful work. I realized that often times we get caught up in the distractions and get manipulated into doing other things than getting down to business.

My point (finally!) is that it is easy for us to let life sort of take us wherever it wants us to go. It's easy to let it steer us from gatekeeper to gatekeeper, and just ride the tide and abandon all hope of taking control of our lives. It's easy to join the mass, it's hard to be yourself.

So my plea is for you to go out and do something today that will wrest the reins back into your own hands. In support of the #OWS movement, you could close your bank account and open an account at a credit union. You could start writing a business plan for that business you've always wanted to start. You could paint or sculpt or create something for yourself. Rebuild your website! Write a manifesto! Do something, anything (it doesn't have to be massive) to help cut out the clutter and find something that YOU want to do and focus on it. Turn off the music and close the Facebook tab, close your email and do something amazing, even if it's a simple as choosing to take a five minute break from work and mediating or walking outside. It's your life, so don't let the distractions overwhelm you! Get to it!