Last week, I had insomnia, and at midnight, I dizzily got out of bed and walked to my office, opened my computer, and typed the following:
There is a voice in my head telling me to write, and like a blind man I feel my way through each word, each letter, it feels right.
In the original version, in my sleepy stupor, I misspelled two words: blind and word. I didn't care. I was pleased with myself for making my way out of bed, in the early hours of the night, writing my thoughts down, on my computer, a digital space where my mind will forever be recorded in markdown, and auto uploaded to my digital garden on my personal Internet domain, owned by the Google overlords, for my kin and others to forever see (at the time, a digital recording of my thoughts seemed more permanent than writing them in my physical journal). Why was I so pleased with myself? Well, because all of the writing advice I had consumed told me that it's important to write all the time, everywhere.
Writing advice is like any other advice a person may get from well-meaning folks. For example, if you’re going out on a first date, you may get advice that says, don't talk too much, but don't talk too little, don't stand too close, but don't stand too far, maintain eye contact, but don't stare too long. The advice can be confusing, yet when we actually go out on the date, we naturally figure out how to behave appropriately in response to feedback from the other person. Our bodies know how to behave, we just need to give ourselves permission to let go so our intuition can kick in.
Writing is the art of letting go. Every writer knows that pressure creates garbage writing, yet we face pressure all the time. Whether it's deadlines, external or self-imposed, societal or family expectations, pressure can be like a layer of blankets: itchy; if you don't sit still, you may get zapped by static.
How do we give ourselves permission to let go? How do we learn to trust our inner self? Of course, I’m not an expert in the domain of finding inner freedom, but from personal experience, recharging seems to be a really good way to let go and allow your body and mind to heal. For me, my recharge activities are taking a walk and smelling Spring blooms, yoga, listening to calm music, and reading a good story. Angela Goodhart, a friend and photographer in Virginia, has a great guide on how to take a photo walk. I also hear The Art of Doing Nothing, on my book list, is a great read.
Recharging activities should be things that calm you down and allow you to re-connect with your body. Although leisure and entertainment activities like watching TV or talking to a friend, can be positive, they can also overstimulate you. There’s now research evidence of Zoom fatigue, showing how a little bit of recharge time between meetings can make a world of a difference. A new study from Microsoft's Human Factor Lab measured stress in people after back to back meetings. The results showed that beta waves, linked to stress, increased in people who sat in back-to- back meetings without breaks, but people who meditated for 10 minutes between meetings, had significantly lower beta wave activity, resulting in not only less fatigue at the end of the day, but also a greater ability to focus and engage during meetings. The results are astounding. Check out the visual below. (Blue = less stress).
I kept this newsletter short because I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and I haven’t been actively consuming as much information. Insomnia, and later some good advice, made me realize that I needed to recharge.
If you don’t already have a recharging practice, I hope you develop one. Start slow, it can be as short as 5 minutes. Happy recharging - we all need it!