Information Overkill and The Meaning of Life

You’ve got to love information!

The thrill of the chase. The infinite list of topics waiting to be explored. Those ‘Ahah’ moments that can follow. The endless search for knowledge has got to make up a good part of The Meaning of Life .

Too bold a statement?

Maybe, but there is no denying information is everywhere, easily accessible and immediate.

Unfortunately, it’s doing my head in (yes…… literally).

Our good new age friend ‘Google’ has certainly provided us with a seemingly never ending array of information nuggets over the last 15 years or so.Stacked Books

And of course let’s not forget the beauty of books in filling our minds with a good deal of knowledge and inspiring our imaginations to flourish.

‘The key to wisdom is understanding the extent of your own ignorance.’ Socrates

BUT in a saturated information era, I’m feeling more than ever that confused sensation of information overload or as I like to call it ‘Information overkill’.

The Quest

The quest to know more ‘stuff’ about everything from writing novels to food fermentation, gardening to Stand Up Paddle Boards and of course the random, endless stream of ‘How to…..’ questions, has left me feeling more than a little overwhelmed and frustrated.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve found myself signing up for, subscribing and inevitably succumbing to a steady selection of web pages, Facebook ‘Shares’ and on-line articles all with the view to ‘helping’ me satiate my appetite for immediate information.

But it’s not working.information 1

There is of course not enough time to trowel through the endless supply of information and yet it’s tempting to want to give it a good crack.

My smart phone as a result, has quickly become an extra appendage, a conversation killer and unfortunately a device that happily sucks my time and attention from the here and now.

More harm than good?

So it’s got me thinking, do I really need ALL this information? And if I do, is it doing me more harm than good?

T.S Eliot made this point precisely when he wrote,

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

I say this because at the end of another week sifting through articles, podcasts and subscriber e-mails on ‘How to write better Blogs’ I don’t feel any ‘better’ off.laptop information

Definitely submerged in a flood of info! And if anything, it’s building into a torrent of insecurity at just how much more I am yet to learn.

My common sense is starting to tell me that maybe, just maybe writing better blogs will come with time, experience and many fails (yeah, the Ahah moment kicked in late!)

Similarly, the more I read (or skim read these days in an effort to take in MORE), the less I seem to retain. Example……

“Oh, that reminds me of a great article I came across the other day on Information Overload. It made some great point I think about how it’s not new, or it’s a challenge to deal with, or something like that. Really insightful it was. Or hang on, maybe that was the article on Fermentation Overload!”Information overkill

Yup, it’s all a blur sometimes.

I’m beginning to wonder now if a little bit of patience, personal experience, human interaction and a dash of common sense, might go a long way to rediscovering what actually matters and where to find it.

So now I’m going to unsubscribe to a heap of e-mails, try to avoid the temptation to click on each ‘Share’ or ‘Like’ article on FB and instead, take the time to look out the window a little more. Just to ponder.

Oh! And spend more time reading….FICTION.

The Quest For a ‘Great’ Life, Better Than ‘Average’

I’m going to be unabashedly honest right now. Sometimes I imagine what a life of ‘greatness’ would be like.

I’ll picture myself as a philanthropist, the founder of a great company, helping to save the Amazon rainforest from destruction.

Or a professional athlete taking my body to the limits, competing in the Olympics. A celebrity on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (why not?) busting some saucy moves on a glitter ball dance floor.Ideal writer

And of course a respected writer, providing readers with escapism from the everyday

Please tell me I’m not the only one?

Don’t we all, even just occasionally, dare to dream of a life better than average?

But yes, guilt swiftly follows and a personal assessment of my situation helps me rationalise my existence.

While my life my not be as glamorous, over-stated and highly acclaimed as these day-dreams, it is pleasant, safe and by most reasonable accounts, devoid of too much drama.

This is a very good thing! But seeing as I’m being honest, it all feels a little (dare I say it) ‘average’.

It is also of course a wonderful and loving and happy and full, very full life. So absolutely Noooooo complaints. Totally grateful here!

BUT, when we are so easily exposed and perhaps seduced by stories of those living the extra-ordinary life, the sensational, the exceptional, the rags-to-riches and the empowering, it can leave our semi-uneventful lives feeling a little…..well, less.dreaming

Maybe I’ve just been viewing too many TED talks lately? Possibly need to lay off the Olympics coverage too?

Nothing ‘average’ about it

Firstly, I’ll put to bed the argument I can hear rustling it’s way to me right now. ‘We all have unique, individual, special lives, so how can a life be average?’

And it’s a valid point. I stand on solid ground agreeing with. Yup, no one has had the same experiences, family, friends etc as you.

But for the purposes of this philosophical argument, I’m wondering how we can see value in our everyday, ‘average’ life?

How can we feel (especially if we aren’t famous or well-known or recognised by others) ‘great’, satisfied or fulfiled with our lot, amongst the dirt of the everyday?writer desk

I think at some level we all want to DO many things with our lives, some ‘great’ things even, yet the effort involved in simply running the day-to-day errands of life which are so quick to hold us down, can stifle our plans for creativity, dampen our spirited sense of adventure and deny us spontaneity for the outlandish.

“Live a life less ordinary” Benedict Cumberbatch

So where does that leave us?

I could offer up a list of ways I reckon we can satisfy our cravings for greatness in the everyday. Something like this:

  1. Take risks: see the world as a smorgasbord of opportunities on offer each day, waiting to be picked, played with. Throw caution to the wind a bit
  2. Make sacrifices: know that with all things great, sacrifice is inevitably required so shoulder this willinglyProcessed with VSCO with 4 preset
  3. Ask questions: it’s normal, right and good. Be open to new ideas, new people, new places, new experiences etc
  4. Read: it’s a wonder! Reading is a form of escapism at the very least, but its true power lies in its ability to fill our minds with knowledge, inspiration and the unreal.

But, It seems a bit cliché, a little cheesy and perhaps even condescending.

So I’m going to be frank….. again. I reckon it’s ok to want to be more, to do more and achieve ‘greatness’ on some level. It’s this pursuit for the extra-ordinary that will undoubtedly mean our lives are richer, simply for taking up the challenge.

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” Seneca

The reality is that even for those who are ‘great’, the everyday mundane still exists. Olympic athletes still have to pay bills, philanthropists still have to deal with pressures and stress, acclaimed novelists still have to wash up the breakfast dishes.

So really, it’s not about being ‘great’ it’s about DOING ‘great’ that makes all of our lives more than average.

Doing ‘great’ I think means making sure that we funnel our energies into an area we are passionate about, are willing to work hard at and keep aspiring to, in spite of the everyday mundane.Woman Free

It’s no doubt also about doing ‘great’ for others. Giving something of ourselves (hopefully the best bits) to those around us for the ‘greater good’ and in turn feeling part of something more than just ourselves.

So, in order to satisfy my cravings for a life of ‘greatness’, I’m going to keep on practicing my dance steps, pondering my next novel and making a mental list of ways to save the Amazon, while washing up the dishes and cleaning the toilet.

If nothing else, it makes the mundane seem a little more meaningful.

Sunday Night Blues, BACK OFF!

Ok it’s midweek, but I’m posting this in the hope that it may arm us for the inevitable.

As another glorious weekend winds down, so slides in the Sunday night Blues. Dammit!Sunday beach

You’d think I’d be able to see it coming by now, prepare for it, stare it down. Likewise you’d think I’d have learned that the consumption of alcohol does nothing to alleviate its impending arrival.

So here we are, on a Sunday night and yet again melancholy has seeped into my veins. Not just because I’m up to my armpits in preparation for a working week ahead and unwilling to wave goodbye to another weekend.

But because I’m resisting that forced reality check.

You know it. That sagging feeling, following you around, wrestling with your imagination, medaling with your mood.

It’s the time my husband and I feel most reflective (unfortunately), contemplating our lifestyle, our careers.

We’ve been know to mouth the words ‘Heck! Let’s just throw it all in and go live abroad’ most frequently on a Sunday night. As if you can escape it?Runaway from Sunday

All the things you’d like to do now and all the things you’d like to do tomorrow are shackled by that niggle-some necessity WORK.

It’s ability to command your thoughts, feelings and actions is freakish.

Often on this fateful evening, you my wonder what happened to all your grand weekend plans for organised efficiency: catch-up cleaning, scheduled social time, family time, and ha ha ha… ME time.

Sometimes I just will that freak in me to bust out and shout ‘Screw it!, I’m gunna wing it tomorrow’. But I know from past experience that ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ approach, never ends well on a Monday.

So how can we break the vicious cycle of Sunday Night Blues and get on with living?

The Facts

Firstly, you’ll be glad to know somewhat that it is a real phenomenon and that more than half of us (78% a recent international study showed) grapple with it.

Secondly, according to Psychology Today one of the reasons we experience the Sunday Blues is because it can “stir up old feelings from schooldays – long after we leave the education system, our bodies and psyches bring up childhood fears about unfinished homework and tests we’re not prepared for”.

Sounds familiar alright?Sunday Night Blues

So now we feel slightly comforted with this knowledge that we’re not alone or going insane each Sunday evening or suffering from some kind of cyclic Sunday night Groundhog day, can we move past it?

Solutions

‘Relax and distract’ is one solution offered up in this article by the Huffington Post, but if you’re like me I can’t relax precisely because I’m distracted by the all the incoming items on my ‘to do’ list, to get done, before tomorrow starts!

I’ve tried distracting myself with alcohol (as mentioned above) but this only seems to bring on a heightened awareness of my emotional state. Also not a viable long-term solution.

There is the obvious answer that I’m almost reluctant to mention for fear of my own reprisal. It does involve that all annoying process of (uhhhh) being organised. More ‘organisation’ on a Friday afternoon may avoid any necessary preparations (taking place on a Sunday), required for the start of a new week.

Bleh….. even saying that out loud hurts! That’s just NOT going to happen, I think you’ll agree.organised

So where does that leave us?

I could offer up a few serious solutions eg allocate a reward/ treat for yourself, something to look forward to, almost as leverage to get you through this sagging Sunday eve. An episode of ‘Game Of Thrones’ used to do this for me.

But in all honesty, if I’m being real, it’s the bleeding obvious; knuckle down, strap yourself in and wade through it. It’s tried and tested.

There IS no ‘beating’ those Sunday evening blues, except in facing up to them, slapping them about a bit and reminding yourself that the imagined Monday will never be quite as scary or as daunting as its reality.

And surprise, surprise, we always manage to get by somehow, someway, relatively unscathed on that meddlesome Monday.Half bottle wine

If not……then that half drunk bottle of Sunday wine comes in super handy for a Monday afternoon session.

Cheers