The word ‘static’ has been on my mind this month. Since Jacob Nordby used it when talking about ‘connection‘. I’ve been thinking about different types of static and how they are showing up at the moment.
There is a lot of static in the world right now. I’m writing this in a state of lockdown. You may well be reading it in a similar place.
The COVID-19 outbreak has meant we are in a period of physical stasis, unable to go far and unable to move without good reason. There is a lot of static noise, from the repetitive feedback loops of our news feeds, social media, and email inboxes. And we might be experiencing moments of electrical shock as we rub up against these strange unchartered pathways.
In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast I look at three specific types of static. We will explore how they show up in unexpected ways, and whether they can even be a potential source of deep joy and possibility.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling amidst the static. Swirling shifts in my mood. Jumps from feelings of healthy stasis and balance, to a feeling of being tethered, rooted, and anchored in a place I don’t want to be.
A lot of us are feeling these tensions. These leaps between moods and feelings. Ebbs and flows. Ups and downs. This is completely normal, and we need to allow them to be. We can’t fight them. But we can sit with them, observe them, and let them pass.
This Too Shall Pass
This is a saying I’m hearing a lot at the moment. Most often it is a point of reassurance. That no matter how hard things are, we will move through to the other side of this moment.
I spoke with someone recently who said she finds the saying a little frightening. And to her it’s actually a voice of foreboding joy. It tells us that no matter how good things are right now, it wont last. “Oh yeah. Wow. True.” I thought.
We load a saying with our own meaning. We project what we need into things like that. The simple truth it contains is this: change is inevitable. Even when things seem static, they are still transforming at some level.
This situation is changing us, it’s changing the way we show up in the world, and it’s changing the state of the world itself. Within an acorn there resides an oak tree. Not all at once. Not yet fully formed. But it’s in there. From every word, situation, and moment resides the possibility of what it will become.
Static as Stillness
On the one hand static is balance, rootedness, and a solid foundation. And on the other hand, it is stuckness, imprisonment, and lockdown.
“An anchor keeps a vessel at bay, planted in the harbour, unable to explore the freedom of the sea” – The Minimalists
Isn’t that the whole point? An anchor is a tool to prevent the boat from drifting away with the wind or current. It doesn’t restrict the vessel. It protects it. Surely?
I remember finding this quote rather challenging idea to get my head around at first. The notion of being anchored had always felt like a compliment. A positive. I thought of anchored people as good people. They have their stuff together, and they’re reliable and trustworthy.
But as they unpack the idea in the book, it makes more and more sense. They had followed this desired description of being very anchored, and conformed to it in their early 20’s. They climbed the corporate ladder, bought property, and appeared well adjusted to the norms and expectations of the world around them. But this anchoring was stopping them from exploring the world they wanted to see. All these commitments, ideas, material possessions and debts were anchors (weights holding them in place). Forcing static on a curious, adventurous heart.
Anchors aren’t innately good or bad. They just are. But it’s our relationship with them, and our awareness of what they are enabling us to do or restricting us from doing, that is important.
We look at this more in the episode.
Static as Noise
Noise is the way we interpret a sensory input. Whether it’s a smell, taste, sound, sight, or feeling. Noise is the subjective meaning we apply to whatever it is, and to some degree we get to choose what sort of meaning we give to these things.
When I was a kid we had analogue TV. Static noise was a common problem, especially in bad weather or when pigeons hung out on the aerial. The picture would go fuzzy and the sound would become intermittent and full of white noise.
Noise comes from roots of nuisance, nausea, injury and harm. It’s inescapable, repetitive, and irritating. It’s the stuff we don’t truly tune into. We have no clarity around, and cannot decipher the value or purpose of what sits beneath it.
This is why so much of social media is noise. The news can be noise. The spread of information and ideas can all be noise. We can’t decipher its worth or use for our lives. But it’s there, chipping away, draining us at different levels, removing our energy, desensitising us, and driving us apart from connection, compassion, and grace.
Static as Shock
We’ve all know how it feels to receive a static shock. When you feel the pin prick of electrical discharge after coming into contact with another surface. The balloon thing, or the kids at school who would rub their feet on the carpet and go round zapping people.
I often get them when alighting the car (it was a game changer when I learned you could discharge without pain, by touching the roof before placing your feet on the floor…when I remember).
The ultimate example of static electricity is lightening. Where the positively and negatively charged particles separate, and create a spark to neutralise either within the cloud or between the cloud and the ground. During the build up to a big storm the electrical charge often feels palpable. You know it’s coming. There is a shift.
The shock is the end point, the release, and the discharge of a process that had been building. The static is caused by the charges staying one one surface without flowing to another. We can identify this kind of static build up in many areas of life, and manage ourselves around them with increased awareness.
Over to You
How is static showing up in your life right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.