Part of the South Leinster Way going through Inistioge
Forty Days in the Desert
From Ash Wednesday to today, I chose to abstain from social media to mark Lent. (With a four-day interruption caused by the Arch-Tempter Himself, Mr Amazon) This was because I wanted to live more meaningfully and in the moment. I wanted to force myself to live an undocumented life and be less reactive on places like twitter. It was also an attempt to return to the spiritual framework that had informed much of my childhood. I also threw over Goodreads, as there is an addictive quality to that site as well, as well as taking twitter off my phone.
I’d be lying if I said I managed to get much work done, but much of this indolence was due to life changes and the realisation that my contract would be ending at the end of this month, so I had some time coming up. I’d also be lying if I said I’d managed to eschew all forms of internetting and did nothing but read good books. For habitual timewasters, something else will always come up to serve as the timewasting activity, and so it was with me. Though it might have been slightly less febrile.
I did find a reticence creeping into my nature that was at first forced, but then natural. It was a relief to not to have to feel obliged to say something about every event that convulsed twitter. For acts of terrorism, what could I add to the outrage? For writing arguments, how did weighing in advance me? I also found myself reinforcing a certain reclusiveness that had crept in to my behaviour last year. It’s been months since I’ve been to any literary event and honestly I don’t miss that world in the slightest. I have the feeling of being relieved of burdens I didn’t know I was carrying.
There was also the observation that nobody much missed me in my absence. I don’t mean that in a oh-poor-me fashion, more that the flow of Twitter is like a river and whether you are in the river or on the bank, everyone else is so busy in the flow that an absence is quickly replaced or not even noticed. That too I found quite lightening and liberating. That all the importance I was putting into my tweets was self-invested, for the most part, and not a necessity.
I think what I have learned from this Lent is that stripping down the extraneous parts of life a little does no great harm and it’s worth pulling in one’s energy so that it can be spent more fruitfully.