When the shit hits the fan I hit the internet. My brain switches to research mode and off I dive into articles, blogs, podcasts and kindle books. I know there’s information out there that can help me solve whatever it is that’s bothering me and I am bloody well going to find it.
This tactic works pretty well for practical things with a definitive answer (like how to fix my laptop after my dog stands on the keyboard and somehow turns the screen display upside down), but it can get a bit confusing when it comes to problems and decision making at a more personal level (like what should I have for dinner? Just kidding, I usually know that one).
But there is a lot of information out there and it’s easy to become bamboozled. Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything, there are so many logical but opposing arguments and evidence for even the most bizarre theories abounds if you know the right (or wrong) places to look – just ask those flat-earthers how they know the Earth is flat.
Even when I’m not consciously seeking out new information it seems to have a habit of finding me and presenting me with more problems I need to solve. The Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, for instance, made me want to take every electronic device in our house and throw them down the toilet. Damn you Netflix, why did you have to ruin it for us?!
It’s difficult to hold a conversation with anyone at the moment without the pandemic coming up (almost makes me wistful for the days when all we could talk about was Brexit), and even checking my emails takes me to a news feed which can suck me down an information rabbit hole for half an hour and leave me with more questions than answers. Idly scrolling my Facebook or Instagram feeds is fraught with peril and frankly it can all be a bit overwhelming.
This is where lockdown gave me an unexpected gift. For most of this period our family had the benefit (occasional curse) of having no internet. With patchy 3G phone coverage it was almost impossible for me to find the answers to life through a google search.
I started to journal. I began to meditate. I remembered that there’s a ‘me’ in there somewhere that just knows stuff. There’s a ‘me’ who has good judgement and can make informed decisions without researching every possible option or outcome first, but I’d been drowning her out for so long I’d almost forgotten she was there.
She doesn’t speak to me, like my overthinking mind with all its ‘should’s’ and ‘must’s’. Rather, I can sense her in the instinctual way that my body, not my brain, can say yes (or no) to something before my analytical mind has a chance to run away with things. She’s just there and she knows with such certainty that I wonder how I could have pushed her to one side for so long.
I don’t think I was even aware I was doing it. She just kind of got tuned out. Rolling news, social media, emails and, well, erm…blogs (maybe I should’ve thought this through), there are so many opinions out there that it’s easy to lose ourselves along the way.
When lockdown ended I resolved to keep hold of my new found equilibrium. I would continue in this vein, true to my intuition and able to access that curious, light hearted and capable part of me that just knows stuff.
I managed it for a while too. But more and more I’m finding myself running on autopilot. As outside commitments pick up my journaling has all but stopped, my meditation practice has become sporadic and I’m starting to question if the ‘me’ that I connected with during lockdown was even real.
I suppose this was always going to be the case. Lockdown gave me a unique opportunity to live in the present with minimal outside influences, allowing me unprecedented time and space to reconnect with myself and my family. With tighter restrictions looming over the next couple of weeks and the kids on half term all I need do is disconnct the internet to find out if I’m looking back on this period with rose tinted glasses.
If I’m not, then I suspect country singer John Prine had it right way back in ’71 when he sang;
‘Blow up your TV
Throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden
Eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus, on your own’
Amen to that John.
Lyrics: Spanish Pipedream by John Prine from the album John Prine Copyright 1972 Atlantic Records