I think there are two driving forces behind this effort. The first is the relatively simple idea of figuring out how little I need to truly be happy and productive. I’m healthy, straight, white, and male so the cynical way to understand this feeling is to think that my life is so peachy keen that I need to manufacture my own challenges. Cynical but probably more true than I’d like to admit.
My life is pretty great and I don’t really have any hardships worth pointing to.
And maybe it’s because of this cushy reality I feel like I have to take deliberate steps to not lock myself into the warm and dulling embrace of having every desire and whim met at a moment’s notice (but God, what a douchey thing to say, right?).
Perhaps this is my attempt at ensuring my success, to the extent I have any, originates from something other than privilege and fortunate external circumstances. Perhaps if I pare down my belongings and my attachments and my desires I’ll be left with a nugget of something that is me. And if all my success doesn’t escape or if I’m able to continue doing great work when the gap between capital M Me and what I produce isn’t intermediated by stuff then maybe I’m worthwhile after all?
This is taking an existential turn.
The second force at play is that I’m worried my participation in modern society is destroying the state of mind required to create something truly great. I’ve always believed that I was capable (destined?) to make a meaningful impact on the world. A book? A company? A talk? A theory? I’m not 100% sure the medium it will take but I am 100% sure that it will take more effort, time, and focus than anything I’ve ever done. Looking at the ebb and flow of my daily life right now I don’t see how that’s ever going to happen. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to suddenly suck at my job or anything like that. It’s more the realization that I could continue doing what I’m doing and have a perfectly mediocre life or I could really fuck-shit-up (FSU) and have a shot at doing something great.
It may be sad that the best way I can see to FSU right now is to basically stop using social media, put away my electronic entertainment devices, and sit in silence a bit more (more privilege, ftw). But hey, for me (and a lot of other people I know) that’s the modern version of FSU. Maybe I’ll find/be subjected to something different to do down the road (taking a long sabbatical? moving to another country? contracting a life changing illness?) but for now this is my best shot at shaking things up.
The hope is that this newfound space and silence will not only give me the raw time I need to create something great but also the time I need for the ideas bouncing around in my head to coalesce. Some ideas can be skimmed off the surface of the mind and implemented pretty quickly (and sometimes they’re even pretty good) but I have a feeling the really groundbreaking stuff requires the uncertainty and agony and frustration of silence when all you really want to do is listen to a goddamn podcast or shoot some aliens.