I have no idea how I function some days. Every second hundreds of tweets flash by and dozens of Facebook posts pop up. My email is flooded with messages, spam, promotions I don’t remember signing up for, status updates for websites I haven’t visited in over two years, Google+ updates, Goodreads updates, library updates, literary magazines I’ve signed up for, updates for Facebook groups I admin, emails that have nothing to do with me, but for some reason I’m copied on them, and the occasional important letter. When I add my to-do list of forms to fill out, doctor appointments, errands, writings, and other miscellaneous tasks to the barrage of media saturation, I cringe. It isn’t the tasks that overwhelm me, I don’t mind being busy, but the sound of everything drives me crazy. Everything is way too ‘noisy’.
If you’re an extrovert, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll try to explain it. My brain needs quiet. Everything I come into contact with is ‘noise’, even if it’s silent. Too much stimulation and I feel like I’m going to explode. It’s why I love all these blog posts from the very extroverted experts who tell you how to live and breathe social media. Part of me always wants to send them a quiet reminder that other types of people exist in the world.
Two weeks ago, during my poetry reading, I kept coming back to the word ‘silence’. If you read my Weekly Poetry Reading post, you saw several poems dealing with this theme. The kids were home sick (the thermometer said they were sick. The thermometer might have lied. I need to throw it out and get a new one because half the time my kids acted like they were on top of the world. Fighting, dragon-flying, fort-building, Lego-building, kitchen-spilling, gloriously beautiful, but not sick kids), each unmet deadline I made for myself loomed larger and larger over my shoulder, tasks piled up, tweets kept rushing by, and my phone beeped a thousand times keeping me up-to-date on Facebook status posts and instant messages. I needed to find some quiet time.
So when I’m drowning in the sea of noise, what do I do?
1) Turn off all the noise.
I shut down Facebook. Turn off Twitter. Hide my phone. Short of a nuclear bomb wiping out the planet, a freak asteroid collision, or the return of Christ, I’m positive the world will keep turning. If someone needs me badly enough, they’ll find another way to reach me. The forms and errands can pile up. Almost everything in life can be re-arranged, or canceled.
For me, reading a book always does the trick. Or doing something a little more creative, like scrapbooking or drawing. Creativity fills me back up. It restores my faith in the world. It brings the balance back between noise and silence. It’s the bridge that links my quiet, artistic side with the pragmatic side that allows me to function out in the real world. I need creativity the way some people need the sun.
3) Toss guilt in a box and
tape glue solder the lid on.
This is the hardest step for me. When I go off the grid to recharge, I feel so guilty. I have friends on Facebook who define their friendships by whether or not friends ‘liked’ their posts. The sad thing is, I enjoy their friendship. I think they’re great people. But I can’t keep up with all their friendship rules. I need to remind myself that’s okay. I wasn’t put on the earth to like a million Facebook posts. I do what I can with what I’ve got. That means I need to shut everything down once in a while. Emails will sit there unanswered and that’s okay. Life goes on. Unless it was an email from any doctor, I guess. Maybe I should answer those. Everything else can wait.