Day 2: To Accept the World, You Have to See It

Welcome to Day Two of my blog series about “accepting the world”, in the sense given that phrase by Ivan Ilyin. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the post that sets it all up.) Instead of over-philosophizing like I sometimes do, I just wanted to share a story with you today.

early morning walks have their glory

“Blank Page Syndrome”

As you might have already heard, there’s a group of us (Artefact Institute) that are trying to put into action some of the ideas I expressed in my “Call for a New Christian Culture“. Our first event in Louisville is coming up later this month. Naturally, there have been many emotions surrounding this event.

My own job is relatively simple. Write a story for the feature concert, which will be a kind of summation or presentation of the workshop sections of the event. Should be easy, right?

Well, writing stories is much harder than it might seem. And toward December, I had become so overwhelmed by minutiae in my work life that I had forgotten something important about the creative process (and, indeed, the spiritual life).

You have to see the world to be able to do anything in it. 

That might seem obvious. But for many of us, myself included, “the world” is increasingly become a virtual space. The real world of air and conversations and candlelit dinners is slowly being pushed out of the way for twitter storms, facebook scrolling, and bingewatching.

These tendencies have real, tangible consequences, both in the physical and spiritual life. My prayer had gone dry, for example, and so had my creative drive. I had absolutely no idea what to write for this Artefact event. I trusted that the story would come, but it took a very long time to oblige.

Digital Minimalism, again

Then I stopped. (A necessary first step). I realized that I had allowed myself to reintroduce browser and social apps on my phone. And I had become Gollum again.

My Precious!!!!

So I listened to myself. I took off all the pesky apps from my phone, I reintroduced myself to the freedom app (google it if you don’t know, it’s a lifesaver), and went for a long walk. During that walk, I started to see the details of the winter trees. The way the sun looks like an egg in the overcast winter sky. The way that a reflection of a tree is sometimes more interesting than the tree itself:

That walk was cleansing in many ways. And suddenly, ideas were pushing each other  to get  my attention. Ideas about all my projects, including the Artefact Story. But there was one more step necessary. I called an old friend on the phone. Someone whom I hadn’t talked to in ages.

And just talking out loud to him about the Artefact event clicked the final details into place. I had a complete story in my head. All I needed now was to write it down.

To Accept the World, You Have to See it First

So there you have it. Proof that Digital Minimalism is necessary in our time, if we are ever to create anything useful or beautiful. I’ve suggested that we are called to take on the world in a transformative way. And certainly technology is helpful in doing that. But to know what it is we have to transform, we have to be in it. We have to see it. And then, we can accept it and do our small part to transform it.

Part of what I’m hoping to do with this blog series is get people thinking positively, but with discernment, about the world we live in, especially when we are surrounded by negativity. Community is an important part of that. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing these brief reflections with your friends as they come out every day, I would be grateful. And do let me know what you think in the comment section!

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I have several creative projects in the works that have lost my attention to the digital monster. I really love what you said about transforming the technology. That doesn’t happen through passive consumption. It may occur through good interactions on those mediums but creating content to fill it with goodness against the onslaught of negativity within in it is the most powerful work.

    1. In the book Digital Minimalism, one of the ways the author recommends we use technology wisely is not only be creating content, but by making sure to read blogs specifically, then spend time on the comments, to make them a conversation, not a passing frivolity. Melinda was suggesting that some of the AF bloggers do that as an exercise. I think it’s a good idea.

      1. Yes, I’ve been feeling pulled toward both giving my own blog more attention and actually participating in blogs I enjoy. Thanks you for your response, it has given me the courage to step into new comments sections!

  2. I recall Steve Jobs saying that he intended the iPhone to only be an “iPod that can make phone calls.” I try my hardest to use my own phone just for phone calls, music, and messaging, but there is always the temptation when you’re doing nothing or just bored at work to just pull out your phone and get on social media. It’s not just phones but any screen. It becomes difficult when you work both professionally and on personal projects in front of a computer screen. It’s like you can’t escape it!

    I personally think another issue that plagues the digital age is sound. It seems like no matter where you go, someone’s always talking, music is always playing, the television is always on, etc. I’m personally guilty of this because I usually tend to put my earphones in and listen to music while I’m working. While this works while I’m at my job and can put myself on “autopilot”, I’m starting to see that it can be very counterproductive when you’re trying to focus on any personal or creative work. Silence really is a friend of creativity. In fact, I often feel like I’m able to progress forward on something when I’m not focusing on said project and drowning out my own thoughts with, what is essentially, noise.

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