There are many unhealthy parts of the digital age. We have a lot to learn and work out, if we want to stay healthy and sane in the online world. But for all its flaws (mostly caused by the way humans use it), the Internet is a beautiful tool.
I would never have had the opportunity to perform at TEDxUnic in Cyprus. I wouldn’t have been invited to meet new friends (who I’d known online for years) at the HSP Gathering in Oulu (Finland) last August. And I wouldn’t have been in North Wales a few weeks ago, hanging out with Mark Pierce.
In their own ways, these all feel like significant moments. Markers in my life that carry meaning. What they all have in common? They would never have happened if it wasn’t for the internet.
From Internet to Outernet
I know Mark because he listened to my podcast and decided to send me an email one day to tell me. It was a Facebook message from Nicholas in Nicosia that opened the door to TEDx (an event which wouldn’t exist without the internet). And it was through Haven member, Tuula, that I had the opportunity to visit Finland.
I’m not one for lots of socialising. I’m usually pretty happy in my own little world. But I love the aspect of the internet that means I can find people who resonate with my character and values. All over the world. And when the opportunity arrives, there is something wonderful about meeting people and spending time with them, in person.
A few weeks ago I got to hangout with Mark. I used his studio to work on some music. The whole thing was a much welcome break from life. I was in one of those increasingly stodgy seasons, where things feel like wading through treacle. A trip to the mountainous coast was exactly what I needed to refocus.
Going up to Conwy Mountain after dinner with Mark and his family was one of those beautifully surreal moments. I couldn’t help but think, ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the internet’. With a bright rainbow, the echoey clouds, and grazing wild horses, it felt like nature had slightly overindulged in cliche. But sometimes I guess even Mother Nature likes to exaggerate in order to make her point.
The Creative Wound
I first met Mark in person, earlier this year in Shrewsbury. I first met him through the internet, years ago!
We spent the day moving between cafes, drinking coffee and chatting about life, the universe, and everything. I was fascinated to explore some of the themes from his book, The Creative Wound. I read it in Australia at the start of the year. It is always helpful to hear about some of the challenges and struggles he encountered through the writing and publishing process. Reassuring to know other creative people have the same fears and doubts as me.
We are both fairly extreme introverts. We completely exhausted ourselves by going down philosophical, theological, creativity rabbit holes.
“It’s nothing personal but I’ll need some down time this afternoon” – Both of Us
How nice to hang out with someone else who not only gets it, but is uninhibited in saying that’s what they need.
The same happened again this time. We met each morning at one of the Providero Coffee shops (isn’t it amazing how easy it is to slip into a new routine). And through exhausted eyes, we wondered what new ideas, creativity, and conversation points the day would bring. The ‘Big Prov’ (in Llandudno) and ‘Little Prov’ (in Llandudno Junction), are amazing spaces with wonderful coffee.
An Escape into the Internet
I was fortunate to find the perfect little retreat on AirBnB. In the village of Dwygyfylchi (go on, try pronouncing that), I had found a cabin for just £20 a night. Always a bit of a gamble, but it far exceeded my expectations.
It had everything I needed for a comfortable stay in a little self contained wood cabin. Including a decent kitchen area so I could cook up a storm. And there was enough space to record a podcast. Oh and plenty of room to film a video. Like this one…
I am taking this wherever I go from now on…the Litchi portable espresso maker. Technology that has blown my mind. I know, simple things, simple minds.
Serendipity and Coincidence
Mark and I talked a lot about serendipity and the moments in life where things just seem to slot into place. People you meet who it feels like you needed to meet for some reason. Being drawn towards those who have something that you really need to hear or reflect on. Moments and experiences that flick and switch and help you see with conscious clarity and focus, things in the unconscious that have been trying to get your attention for a while.
The week provided a few moments like that. It gave me the insight to clear out a few mental and creative cobwebs. It was like a mini service, which gave me an oil change for my mind and soul.
I didn’t realise what was making me clammy and clogged until I cleaned through the system and hit the reset button. I’m treading a little lighter. I unshackled my perspective somewhat.
My main reflection…I’ve cleared the ideas system and given myself permission to work on fewer things with more simplicity and effectiveness.
Sometimes we are so busy serving outdated systems and ways of thinking, that we fail to see the opportunities sitting at the end of our nose. We keep doing what we’ve always done; feeding the systems and routines that have become comfortable and normal. In the process we shut ourselves off from what might be possible.
Over to You
How do you reset the system when you’re feeling bogged down by noise and busyness? Please leave your response in the comments below.