I've mastered the art of avoiding my reflection, preferring to peer through the looking glass; through the finger-smudged millimeters of glass that can transport me to any distraction that draws my daydreaming daze to any fiction with a publicly accessible URL.
Only in brief moments when the sun slaps these surfaces at just the right angle do I ever see my pupils dilating and darting above the darkened, moon-shaped crescents cupping underneath my eyes. A quick wince while my thumb continues it’s incessant swiping, striking the screen in metered intervals like a rower’s oars paddling along a dreary and fog-filled morning ride along the river.
A meme stands out amid the ripples, acting as a temporary mirror to expose my sharp, bony outlines of my emaciated spirit. This particular meme reminds me, through a beautiful backdrop and cute quote, to only do “what feeds my soul.” But I’ve been attempting to draw nourishment from my Twitter feed since my account was created in the aughts. And I still don’t know how many spiritual calories are in a tweet. Will I ever achieve my daily allowance? Will I ever fill my bucket? Or will trolls fire their darts incessantly, puncturing my pail until it resembles colander, allowing my vitality to spill in all directions? Or will I die from exhaustion attempting to bail out all the negativity I let seep into my scull and skull from consuming content chock full of chemicals? Will I ever cure the craving for the IV drip of dopamine that hits with every notification? The unwanted alerts from attention whore apps that turn my phone into a modern-day lightning bug, flashing upon my bedroom ceiling at 3 AM informing me that someone liked my Facebook post of a copied quote from a book extolling the virtues of a life lived on purpose.
A digital detox is what the doctor ordered, but ironic when the only way I can afford to pay the bill is with a career that requires 50 hours a week in front of a screen. Ask a person with an eating disorder about this battle. Ask them how the left-hand struggles to hold food at bay while the other grasps and pulls onto it so tightly, ones own survival depending on a disproportionately distorted dependency of the USDA daily allowance.
Sure there’s balance, but for every one person successfully walking the tightrope, I see a dozen mangled bodies on the ground below, too dazed to remember when and where they made the wrong step before the terror of falling to their personalized version of rock bottom. Too ashamed to pick themselves back up and put themselves together. Too ashamed to show their scars to prove their commitment to courage and to try again. Too worried what others think while covering the blemishing with makeup every morning instead of proudly showcasing their body, their biography, their wrinkles, and their warts to anyone willing to hear their story.
I’ve become the groundhog. Only taking the risk once a year to see my shadow, afraid of the possibility of extending a bleak and brutal winter by 6-weeks before Mother regains her footing and returns the seasons and cycles as planet Earth hurls around it’s tiny and yet enormous loop around the sun. It’s on Earth where our daily dramas distract us from the reality that we are not bodies that just happen to have a spirit, but we are spirits that just happened to play the greatest virtual reality game ever created: life. We just happen to be 70 trillion cells connected through quantum entanglement to 10 ^ 80 other atoms in the universe all dancing upon the vacuum substrate that is one with us all.
Enlightenment flickers as the feed continues and the moment is lost, yet again. Lost while performing another summation in Excel from cell B2 to B12 while keeping my trigger finger on the Facebook feed refresh. Endlessly feeding on distraction. Endless eating empty calories. Endless spiritual anorexia.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.