Giving up something that’s pleasurable and/or habit-forming for a determined period of time isn’t something new. Stopping a bad habit for a short period of time could lead to giving it up permanently. Not doing something one finds pleasurable for that period of time would make one appreciate doing that thing even more. In either case, giving up something could open one’s time and awareness to another activity.
I’ve noticed a trend over the years for online writers to give up the Internet for a week, and report on what they did during that time—as if there’s no recorded history before the Internet. The angle that these writers take usually runs along the lines of what life without the Internet is really like, when their topic should be about how addicted they are to staring at Facebook.
I would like to challenge myself by giving something up for a week, but I’m not sure what. I’m already easily distracted and have a hard time sticking to the routine I’ve set up for myself. I’m having a hard time coming up with something that I can’t live without for a week, barring food and water.
Could I give up Internet for a week? That wouldn’t be so hard. But I would still want to write for this blog by hand. I would then end up trying to play “catch up” once that week is over, which would negate the whole exercise. That’s not to mention all of the e-mails I would get behind on. I may not comment on all of the blogs that I’m following, but I do read them.
How about T.V.? The problem there is that I don’t watch it much during the work week to start with. I could group “T.V.” with online videos. But even that wouldn’t be so much of a problem. The same goes for social media. I’m just not that addicted to any of these things. (The most activity you see from me on Facebook or Twitter is when I share a new blog post. Even then, that’s automatic so I don’t regard it as actively participating.)
It would be hard for me to not listen to music for a week. But unless I do this on a vacation, it would be impossible. Believe me, I would love to not have to listen to the shit they play at the store where I work. I also get the feeling that this would not be so challenging.
The same goes for reading, listening to podcasts, drinking alcohol or playing video games. I’m just not hooked on any one thing on a grand scale. The only exception would be coffee, but every time I try giving that up I get terrible headaches. And regarding the “productive” activities that I should keep up regularly such as jogging, meditation and writing: unfortunately, I’ve already gone through periods when I wasn’t so good at regularity with any of it.
So… what if I gave up everything?
No, I don’t mean committing suicide. Likewise, I’m not planning on quitting food, sleep or even work. But what if I came home from work, had dinner and did nothing until bedtime—no television, no Internet, no reading? What if I just meditated for six hours every day after work? Could I possibly do that?
I would make a concession for jogging. Again, that’s something I could keep up for health reasons. I could take a week off from writing without worrying about it. Besides, it might benefit from this. I also may allow myself to go somewhere else on the weekends and meditate. Still, no music or podcasts on the car stereo on the way. And the only diversion would be the travel time, not the destination.
I’ll have to think about this one. I must say that I’m intrigued by the idea. I may not make it a whole week. But either way, it won’t be this one—I have plans this weekend. I don’t want to drop anything for this. However, if I notice that I have a free week coming up, I’ll definitely consider it.