We got home from the beach this afternoon. It was all action stations, unpacking, tidying, dinner preparation. I managed to find half an hour where I was inside, alone, chopping vegetables for dinner (with an empty fridge an a kitchen full of bags, tonight it was roast veggies and tuna for the kids and tofu red curry for the grownups). The kids were playing happily in the backyard and there was a brief moment of blissful quiet.
I poured a glass of wine and, out of habit, I set my laptop up and went to youtube, to check the channels I like to watch and see which had updated while we were away. This habit of watching a screen while I’m cooking, using it as a reward, has become such a compulsion I whipped my laptop out before the third child had closed the back door on their way out. I realised how slow it had made me at dinner time, forever stopping to search for the next clip to watch, pausing to listen to whatever was being shown or said, forgetting where I was up to with my cooking.
Clogging my mind with more: more junk, more thoughts, more noise.
I thought of my 2018 intentions and I closed the laptop. I put on some classical music, this, and was amazed by the beauty of it, by the way my thoughts – actual real-time thoughts – flowed, by the way my thumb whipped and curled around the curves of the potatoes as I peeled and chopped, grit collecting underneath my nails and noise releasing from my head, dissolving into the air around me.
Over the years I have slowly but incessantly become reliant on screens to entertain me, to fill me up, to add bulk to moments of natural quiet throughout my day. Sometimes I enjoy it, but I am increasingly feeling frustrated at losing my train of thought, at turning on a screen before I even realise what I am doing, at feeling foggy-headed and full, just so full of other people’s thoughts and lives and details. Sometimes by the end of the day I feel so overstimulated I can barely think. It’s something I’m trying to be mindful of, to be aware of what is happening for me when I’m reaching for my phone, for entertainment, for external stimuli. It’s time I thought about my own screen time, not just that of the girls.
Dinner was served at 6pm. The hoards came inside. The next wave of the day began.