How long have you been staring at a screen? I have been asking myself that quite a lot lately. I have been feeling “the screen” drag me down. How many hours do I spend in front of one? How many Netflix movies have I watched this week? Have I been binging on TED talks? I was actually sparked into all of these questions when I watched this TED talk by Andrew Blum a couple days ago, and he says it so perfectly. He says that:
[…] what was striking to me over the last several years was that less and less was I going out into the world, and more and more, I was sitting in front of my computer screen. And especially since about 2007, when I got an iPhone, I was not only sitting in front of my screen all day, but I was also getting up at the end of the day and looking at this little screen that I carried in my pocket. And what was surprising to me was how quickly my relationship to the physical world had changed. In this very short period of time, you know, whether you call it the last 15 years or so of being online, or the last, you know, four or five years of being online all the time, our relationship to our surroundings had changed in that our attention is constantly divided. You know, we’re both looking inside the screens and we’re looking out in the world around us.
And what was even more striking to me, and what I really got hung up on, was that the world inside the screen seemed to have no physical reality of its own. If you went and looked for images of the Internet, this was all that you found, this famous image by Opte of the Internet as the kind of Milky Way, this infinite expanse where we don’t seem to be anywhere on it. We can never seem to grasp it in its totality. It’s always reminded me of the Apollo image of the Earth, the blue marble picture, and it’s similarly meant to suggest, I think, that we can’t really understand it as a whole. We’re always sort of small in the face of its expanse.
Ultimately I am coping with the reality that my job depends on me sitting in an office and staring at a screen for 8+ hours a day. And I live alone so when I get home, I may have some interactions with others but it would be primarily through a screen. And I am an extravert according to Myers-Briggs, remember? I get energized by people!
Oh yeah, and I am a multi-tasker. Big time. I wonder if its a mild adult ADHD thing, but in my last two jobs I have had a lot of responsibility and with that responsibility I become an insane multi-tasker. Or, in the same mode when I am feeling confident — “I am superwoman!” Pretty hard core, right?
So, what was I saying? (The internet is full of distractions. And I have an iPhone dinging next to me.) I will go with my “ADD thing” right now and switch topics a bit. I believe digressions keep life interesting. And this one will come full circle. Today I bought a necklace of Larimar stone. I have been thinking about the power of stones a lot lately. I was in Berkeley this past weekend and almost went to a trunk show of crystals with my friend Susan. If it gives you any idea, even though I didn’t go she reported back that she put a down payment on a crystal wand. Yup. Crystal trunk show, alright.
So anyway, I bought a necklace today with larimar stone. It has a slightly asymmetrical shape and is a light and bright, but still complex blue. Here is what it looks like:
I looked into larimar before buying it and was convinced that I must have been drawn to it for a reason. I have been struggling lately with a lot of tense and tangled work communications, I am going through a bit of a break up and also a re-kindling romantically, and all that while feeling super lonely and without my footing here in Santa Cruz. And what does the universe throw me? Larimar.
Its powers are believed to helps us view events from different perspectives, to soften and enlighten, to heal the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual body. Larimar stimulates the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras promoting inner wisdom. It represents peace and clarity, healing and love. Larimar is reputed to be helpful for those experiencing stress and anxiety.
Larimar brings you both the calm and power of the sea. The calm: the knowing that every tide out brings a tide in, the interconnectedness of all that dwell in the water, the cellular healing ability of the salted mineral waters. The power: the great waves that can wash away an island, the ability to mold rock and dissolve metal, the creative essence of the earth and all her fury. Larimar can help you make peace in the middle of a storm. It holds the knowledge of the earth’s oldest history, the origin of your species, the story of all who have come before. It is the womb of your mother, the essence of your father. It is a stone of deep answers, and soothing wisdom.
Yes, please! What a gorgeous set of associations and powers. Let it be so! I have never really been into the healing powers of stones, but my dad always did say that rocks are our grandfathers. I believe in that. They are witnesses to the great expanse of time.
Rocks have a sense of permanence and groundedness. We use the idea of a rock to mean stability and constancy, as well as wisdom and the eternal. And the decomposition of rocks and its combination with organic matter make the very soils which sustain all life on earth. Further than that, if something “rocks,” we know . . . it’s awesome! And I love this quote: “You can just pick up stones and rocks, feel the love, and be happy.” (From here). Rocks are so different than the glowing screens of our computers, phones, TVs and tablets—they are fully real. The images and lights that dazzle that us away from the physical world are fabrications based on beams of light and energy. Its all intangible, right?
Now, if you haven’t, you should watch the TED talk I cited above. Andrew Blum goes on a journey to find the physical places of the internet. It’s an amazing thing to consider…that there are undersea cables that connect continents. As Blum says, “You can you hold them in your hand. They’re like a garden hose.” That is not what I would ever have thought of as the internet. And yet it is. It has a basis which is just as physical as a rock.
And with the internet and the life of screens that we live, we are still left with this issue of coping with a new way of being in the world. Where geographical distances can be spanned by Skype and FaceTime and Google Hangouts. And yet I am still going to bed alone and in my own apartment, as are so many others. It’s hard having so little daylight, too. I want to hike after work like I used to, but I can’t. What else to do but sit inside and be on the screen, right? Well in this time of intense screen-based interactions and explorations, I, for one, am making a concentrated effort to continue to cultivate more space for my life away from a screen. With people and books and dirt and plants and animals and real interactions. Yeehaw!