Tag Archives: question

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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Refuge 

Come in.

Lay your body down.

This place

it is

a refuge.

You.

Warrior

…with your armor up

…and your iron eyes

…and your stiffened lips

Unfurl your hair

let it avalanche down your steel shoulders

and flush cheek bone

and breast.

 

Come in.

Lay your body down.

This place

it is

a refuge.

Tell me your stories

Let your tongue tease out the learning

Your muscles ease out the burning

and your heart

so swollen

…let it leech out for awhile.

 

Give. me. your. lungs. warrior.

A baby would know what to do under such circumstances.

I am giving you permission to do the same.

Make your mournful sounds.

You have not forgotten how

only pretended.

 

Give. me. your. salt. warrior.

Your lacrimation will be a final desalination

Through pores

excrete what your body can no longer contain.

I will gather the delicate crystalline in my palms

and with index finger and thumb

we will use it to season

what. comes. next.

 

Come in.

Lay your body down.

Dear warrior

This place

it is

your refuge.

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I wonder what the darkness meant.

‘It’s oh so quiet. It’s oh so still. You’re all alone. And so peaceful until…’ Bjork

When the lights go out, when you find yourself in the dark, the quiet can get …pretty noisy. Like a dream, all the garbage of the day, all the things you pushed aside or ran away from can suddenly appear out of no where; and depending on what your day has been like, this supposed time for peace can get pretty ugly.

…Unless you say ‘hello’ as the genius that is Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen tell us to do in their new children’s book, ‘The Dark’.

This isn’t a new idea of course, fictional characters have been doing this for thousands of years. In Greek mythology Orpheus descended into the dark of the underworld to say hello. Pinocchio too symbolically traveled into the belly of the whale for a yarn and Luke Skywalker went into a cave to confront his ‘dark side’ in ‘Star Wars’. Even Max (from Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the wild things are’) traveled far away from the safety of his room, out into the dark of night, to get angry on an island with monsters.

All these stories are mirroring our own, very real, very human confrontations with the dark; and these fears are not exclusive to those children have when the lights get turned off. As adults our minds still play tricks on us. The ghosts and monsters of our daily wanderings  may have taken on different shapes and sizes but even now, when we are at an age when we control the light switch, we still give the dark so much weight and power.

All four of the characters I mentioned above came back though and here is where we find that the dark can teach us something,  can even shed some light.

The character of Lazlo in Snicket and Klassen’s book, asks questions of the dark.

Perhaps tonight I will too.

I wonder what I’ll return with?

Wonder.Meant …that I was not afraid.

 x Kate

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Welcome Wonder.Meant

‘The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery’. Anais Nin

I have a thing about looking up.

And down.
Actually, all around.

You just never know what you’re going to see when you change your perspective.

Looking out and beyond as much as in and ‘up close’ often causes a sense of wonder, ‘a feeling of surprise and admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable’. The every-day world therefore can be a source of constant wonderment.

Wonder too incites desire and curiosity to know something, know it by site, smell and flesh as much as through the mind, logic and reasoning.

And so we find the paradox within wonder, for in the sensory rapture of not knowing, we are compelled to stretch out, inquire and discover.

Wonder.Meant. …that I was never bored.

Wonder.Meant …that I was always curious.

Wonder.Meant …that I could always look upon the world as a child does, wide-eyed.

And

Wonder.Meant …that the elusive question mark was never terrifying but rather a call to adventure, to learn and grow.

x Kate

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