20:45. The next phase for me in sobriety is going to be digital minimalism. My birthday present to myself was Cal Newport’s 2018 book by that name. I’d first known about it nearly one year ago, when I first started this journey into sobriety. In 2017 I’d read his book “Deep Work,” which was excellent, so I knew it would be good. But I didn’t buy “Digital Minimalism” till now.
It’s only available in paper format. It’s a beautiful cover design, graphic cool-yellow lines in concentric circles. It’s a kind of sensual pleasure to pick it up, in the way that it’s just the right size and weight.
I have another book I’m trying to read in paper format right now — Carol Shields’ book, Startle And Illuminate. I can only read a page at a time or so. Every page, I’m like “dang!” “Dang! ‘Double Dang!” It’s like she’s been reading my thoughts, but expressing them 10 times better than I ever could! It’s not the best feeling, TBH. ;)) But I highly recommend it, in theory. :)) Only issue is it’s hardcover, or at least mine is, and it’s heavy-ish and the binding doesn’t fall open easily.
But this one, Cal Newport’s book, the typeface is the right size, the pages are so cottony and natural-coloured… maybe I’m overselling it here, and when you get it you’ll be like, what’s the big deal, it’s just a book like any other! But I just truly enjoy my time with this book. I read 25 pages in one sitting, which I’m ashamed to say is a lot for me. I mostly read blogs, online. This is my issue. The one I need to work on.
I have three socially-active blogs including this one. It wasn’t planned at all, it just happened, and I keep wanting to amalgamate them or reduce them to one somehow, but I enjoy certain aspects of each, and figuring out the organization aspect of it seems like about as much fun as sorting a file system (i.e. not much, in my books).
I don’t use much social media other than these — Facebook is a kind of once a month, 5-minute event for me, if that; and I keep trying, sporadically, on Instagram, mainly because of artists I love to follow, and friends I have who post on their private accounts, but posting there myself is not much fun. Too much effort required. I’m not good at posting via mobile, and as many know, Instagram doesn’t allow desktop publishing. I’m more of a typer than a tapper.
We are social beings. We are wired to socialize for survival. But since quitting the vino I’ve taken bloggercize to a whole new level. I know it’s tricky to talk about it here since y’all are my friends. It’s not about wanting to give up contact with friends, it’s about wanting to not feel like my head is becoming a screen.
My screen time has sky-rocketed. I interact with many amazing people (some of them are you!) around the world every day, in comments on their blogs and/or on mine. It’s super fun, just like drinking wine used to be, kind of like a 24-hour writer/artist party, but there are side effects. One is running across intense negativity sometimes (though that is very, very rare). Another is that I’m neglecting aspects of my offline life that need more attention than I’ve been giving them.
I get overwhelmed with the kids sometimes. Four boys is a lot. I’m so glad and lucky to have them, but it’s a huge amount of responsibility. In the beginning it was easier to maintain contact and guidance — they were babies, or toddlers, there were no screens, they were in my arms or on my back, and they naturally wanted to be around me all the time. Now they’re older, they gravitate to other interests, they each have screens (their dad/my hubs is a computer guy); quite frankly, I don’t know how to handle it.
And also quite frankly, I escape handling it by doing just about anything other than handling it.
I don’t neglect my kids in the sense of getting their basic needs met. We eat home-cooked lunches and dinners together as a family. I give them tons of positive reinforcement, cuddles, story times (for the younger ones), “life coaching” talks on our commutes, daily walks in nature, teaching them (cat herding them into!) doing chores, rather than simply doing them myself. But there are many, many hours that happen in between those times, and I am not filling them in the best way possible, for the relatively short amount of time they will remain under my responsibility.
I need to change that. Especially now that they are home from school indefinitely. (Schools closed in France on Friday afternoon.)
I have tried in the past to set finite public goals, with relation to sobriety, and while those work very well for some folks, I’ve learned that it can sometimes cause me personally to self-sabotage, under the feeling of social pressure. It’s all my own weight on my head, no-one else’s – but it’s heavy nonetheless.
Therefore I will be finding my way with each step I take, in this next stage of my sobriety.
I have a few quiet goals in mind with regards to gradually reducing my consumption of online input, and I have begun to enact them. In the meantime I’ll continue reading Cal Newport’s book.
I do want to remain a part of this community. I would not have gotten this far without you fellow sobriety-lovers.
In other news, I’ve taken up my knitting again, over the past couple of months… my sobriety shawl is coming along, at the astounding average rate of one row per day, which keeps increasing in length. My math isn’t great, but this rate, I figure it might be finished… in another year or so. ;))
Cal Newport’s book – “Digital Minimalism”: https://www.calnewport.com/books/digital-minimalism/
My older post about it: https://wordpress.com/post/sobrietytree.com/73
11 months, 20 days of sustained sobriety. Thank you for all your wonderful support. 🌱