Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blog Life vs. Real Life & "The Matrix"

My work/life balance campaign is going swimmingly well. I managed to put the computer away for an entire 24 hours this weekend. Did not touch it! Amazing!

In the process I learned that I am a little the characters in "The Matrix" who exist partly in an alter life and partly in the real one. And that I find life challenging without a computer attached. Here's why:
  • Control: You've seen the Bounty (TM) paper towel commercial: "Life's messy. Clean it up." Writing about things lets me put the puzzle pieces together in an orderly way, giving me the illusion of control. I like that.
  • Optimism: Real life can be disheartening. There always seems to be "something" challenging going on. And you look around you and see how things end: basically people end up alone, and disabled, and miserable. Writing puts you into another space where everything turns out alright. Which brings us to -
  • Justice: It is true that really great fiction, like great movies and TV, is honest. That means it does not always end well for the characters. However there is a sense of justice that prevails. Nobody wants to read a murder mystery where the killer isn't revealed. Or watch a show where the villain gets away with it. But in real life it does seem that bad people prevail a lot, while good people are mistreated and misunderstood.  
  • Validation: When you're experiencing life -- as opposed to capturing and writing about it -- you are essentially alone in your experience. Your thoughts, your perceptions, your way of taking in the world is never fully shareable. When experience is transformed into words, into common language it becomes possible for others to see what you are seeing, and often to validate it. 
  • Creative Joy: In the movie "The Pink Panther" there is a line about Yuri, "The Trainer Who Trains." The whole movie is slapstick but it makes me think about "The Writer Who Writes." It's sort of silly to say this, but also true, that a writer -- like an artist or a musician -- doesn't really feel themselves unless they are engaged in their craft. 
At the same time, as difficult as it was to take a very short sabbatical from electronics, I think the benefits outweighed the challenges. The computer is very easy - and that makes it an easy crutch. 

When you put down the crutches you force yourself to walk. Maybe you stumble a bit and you're not so good at it, but it's those human moments that are the most valuable. They're the ones you remember over a lifetime.