Tag Archives: faith

Searching in the age of the internet 

Last night I sat opposite my therapist lamenting the days where I used ‘in-between time’, creatively. Where I used space in a way that saw me

…making jewellery my mum still affectionately wears

…painting images from thin air

…composing symphonies I’d try to articulate on the family piano

…reading in a way I’d miss outside sounds, too deeply immersed in the world I was creating between words.

Lately I’ve been desperately searching for ‘next’ meaning. I say next because I have had purpose before; but at 37 I am ready for something new. I am hungry.

Where I have turned to craft for searching in the past I now turn, like so many, to the internet. Sometimes two devices at a time. The internet is, after all, for searching isn’t it?

But for the first time in my life I’m not finding any solutions.

In the age where we have an overwhelming amount of sources to seek ‘answers’, this seems an almost impossibility. But never have I felt more incapable, more unsure and more anxious.

Hearing writer Mark Manson talk a couple of months ago at the Melbourne Town Hall I was reminded about the stress choice puts on our brain. Manson talked about experiments done …with cereal boxes.

Two cereal boxes. No stress. Ten cereal boxes. Anxiety.

Where it is considered ‘lucky’ if you are in the privileged position of having choice, our brains, in contrast, feel great pressure; and so when I turn to google for an answer say to a ‘next job’ question, I suddenly find myself with twenty tabs open that might stretch from ‘next job’ to …next travel opportunity, next retail therapy adrenaline rush, next social exorcism, and finally, next movie on Netflix.

Today I’m wondering…

What did I find without a phone? Without a laptop? Without the internet?

Sometimes, more questions.

Sometimes, deeper ones.

Sometimes

great knowing.

This ‘knowing’ wasn’t necessarily an answer in the way that we regard ‘answers’ in 2017. It wasn’t an immediate fix (in the form of a momentary high), a presumption that everything is black or white or that success would be born of it in a way that would see me known and recognised by many.

It was that ‘elemental’ feeling. The one Sir Ken Robinson talks about. Where I am in something that is intrinsically me. In and being and doing. Creating.

And there was simultaneous peace in that experience and great energy.

And that energy …used to carry me over into the ‘next thing’.

In my mind now I am trying to cultivate that feeling so I can investigate it more. I can sense that it’s about being present, about listening and about commitment. To one thing. Not twenty tabs.

In Krista Tippet’s ‘On Being’ podcast , where she interviews philosopher and poet John O’Donahue, she asks

‘…are we less capable of love and commitment and relationship in a mature sense, in our time than previous generations were? Or is this just a human dilemma that has different details in our time?

MR. O’DONOHUE: That’s a very interesting question. I don’t think we’re less capable at all. I think we’re more unpracticed at it and therefore more desperate for it. And I think it’s a matter of attention really, just attention.

In doing one thing I am attending to it. I am committed to it but not in a way that word seems to strike fear into the souls of many these days (those swiping left and right on Tinder, buying the next phone when there’s nothing wrong with the old one)… but intimately devoting myself to it, so I know it, so I am faithful to it.

I laugh here because I wonder if I too need to explain what I mean by faithful here. I certainly don’t mean to conjure up any notion of religion. I mean to imply –  ‘true’ – in an affectionate way, and in a way that doesn’t require any effort or sense of obligation.

In looking into the etymology of the word attention I find that it stems from the late 14th century meaning ‘ a giving heed, active direction of the mind upon some object or topic’. It is the ‘giving’ and ‘active’ part I am so deeply excited by. Bubbling thinking to the words I used earlier – ‘energy’ and ‘peace’. For giving, hands over something. An exhalation. A kneeling. Peace.

And ‘active’ implies action. Doing something. Creating. Which of course we need and use energy to do.

So answers can be found in the space between letting go and creativity. Between emptiness and fullness. The space I think here is the important part as our brains can have some time to file here. To see if an answer can be created from all the information we already have at our disposal. Information that is personal to us – information gathered by our own personal histories, our own experience.

Online answers should perhaps only be looked for after one has spent time and space with oneself. When one has found personal knowing in intimacy.

This moment, in intimacy, I found that I need a long walk in nature.

without my phone.

 

By Kate Ellis.

 

Kate Ellis is a Writer, Poet, Drama Coach for television and film actors and a poetry, drama and literacy teacher to primary and secondary school students at a progressive independent Primary and Secondary school in Victoria’s Eastern Suburbs. Residing in Melbourne but working across Australia, Kate has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Media and Sociology (UNSW), a Performance degree (Nepean) and a Masters in Education (University of Melbourne).

www.kateelliscoaching.com

 

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Doubts for pause, not for paralysis.

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”

William Shakespeare. Measure for measure.

At the conclusion to the film ‘Doubt’, character Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a character who’s life has been ruled by conviction, of her God, of her faith, says

‘I have doubts. I have such doubts’.

It is a moment that bares such weight in both the film and the play for this characters whole life is challenged by the distrust and ambiguity she now feels through the events we witness as the story unfolds.

This moment suggests, as does the Shakespeare quote above, that doubt can be fatal; fatal to our moving forward (particularly into things that could be lovely) because its main accomplice is fear …and fear can bring such almighty paralysis.

What are we frightened of therefore when we have doubts?

I imagine this is very personal and I don’t presume to answer for you here …but I also believe through experience that there might be a common thread. That for most of us it stems from fear of stepping forward into something that brings our very selves to the forefront; our beliefs, our desires as much as our uncertainties and fears over the thing we are standing up for. Doubt causes us to question ourselves and perhaps what we feel our selves are worthy of.

An example.

Too many times have I heard myself and dear friends say during this Masters ‘I’m just aiming for a pass’. And every time marks come back they are the marks they have always recieved, High Distinctions. There is a great mistrust that is reflected in these statements, that they have doubt in their ability, in the value of their work …but all the information they have through life experience tells them that they should not doubt themselves nor doubt what they can achieve now, or in the future.  How many times I am wondering in this regard have opportunities been missed because of this mistrust in ability, in the belief that someone else is more worthy?

As a believer in the question mark I’m wonder-ing however if doubt isn’t such a bad thing. That there is value in it. Maybe like fear it is a gutteral, instinctual response who’s real message  is to reveal ‘…this is important to me and it’s importance makes me vulnerable’. That ‘I don’t want to screw it up, don’t want to damage it, don’t want to dive head first in and risk failure or getting hurt…’

‘Geeeeently then’

…I hear myself say. Look to the details that say ‘you can trust this’…and perhaps rather than dive in and indeed fuck it up, dip your toes in first, then your legs, …then hips, waist, chest, head …until you find you are totally immersed in the next chapter. Whatever it may bring.

Wonder. Meant …that in thinking about doubt …in looking as I always do to the dictionary and thesaurus to unpack the words I am using, there, under a list of synonyms are the antonyms… without the word doubt we cannot have words like confidence, clarity, belief …and trust.

Wonder. Meant …that the pause doubt affords us can bring us the very assuredness we need.

x Kate

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