In January 2019, I took a month off from social media. Still trying to find my place in this new digital landscape, I decided to just explore “real life” instead. And it was refreshing. I read books again. I painted. I went outside more. I slept better. My mood improved. But, I was more alone than ever before.
As it turns out, I, like many other people, had formed so many friendships and made acquaintances online. When I left, I found myself craving the social interactions I’d have online – except, I didn’t live close to many of the people I interacted with on a daily basis. It’s a bit like living in two different dimensions. In one, an entire world of strangers, a wide variety of languages and opinions and interests. In another, we navigate our day-to-day lives, passing by each other without saying a word, without acknowledging one another. We’re strangers on purpose, not even interested in finding one another. We just co-exist. And we take for granted our local connections. We lead busy lives, spending time with one another becomes a chore, especially when it’s far simpler to chat online instead. I realized: I need new friends. In-person friends.
Taking a month off changed absolutely everything about how I viewed my place in the online world. I don’t like how it’s changed. Upon my return to Facebook, I unfollowed everyone. And my timeline has been blank ever since. Admittedly, because of this change, I’ve forgotten about some people I’ve met over the years. And I think that’s just the natural order of things. We’re not meant to be friends with a thousand people.
Besides, I’ve lost complete interest in reading sermons and seeing daily finger-pointing posts from acquaintances. I’ve lost interest in almost everything online. And I suspect that things will change again soon. Things always change. However, things change at a slower pace offline. And I’m far more interested in slower paces these days.
I’ve spent the entire year with plants and trees. And I don’t understand why nature isn’t as miraculous and as fascinating as today’s daily news updates. I suppose it’s precisely because it doesn’t change that quickly. The weather does, but other than that, things grow and age and decay far slower. Replacement takes time. And it’s only over time, and with patience, that you start noticing the changes. And I think that’s what I’ve found in trees: an incredible stability, strength, and tenacity. They weather storms and changes in climate, they endure our curiosity and succumb to our destruction, only to persevere again. They last longer than we do and I think they’re the true kings of the world. When I visit them, I run my fingers on their bark and I close my eyes and every little bump and groove makes my heart explode in wonder.
“They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?– Jeanette Winterson
By forgetting. We cannot keep in mind too many things.
There is only the present and nothing to remember.”
I think I’ve chosen not to forget. I’ve chosen to remember, because something as simple as the bark of an old tree brings me comfort. I’ve chosen to remember that there are more beautiful things in the world to explore, more tangible things to love and more visceral experiences to be had with everything that is alive all around us.
September marks the “new year” for me, every year. September, the month of schooling and the beginning of fall in the northern hemisphere. September often prompts me to do new things or to drop old habits. I come to this blog again, to write, to share, to understand by rambling on about the various curiosities that trigger my interest. Sometimes, you return to an old space and make it new again. This entry marks my return. Happy new year.