The Struggle to Disconnect

August 5, 2016

Someone asked what I remember as the best times of my life.

They’re almost all times when I was being the most productive — when I was creating the most.

I don’t subscribe to many blogs these days (perhaps two or three) but Derek Sivers’ is one of them. And while it’s been a while since I finished reading Derek’s book Anything You Want I still find his writing incredibly insightful.

No doubt that’s down to quotes like the aforementioned, which are incredibly simplistic to grasp and even easier to relate to.

Such writing holds up a mirror to the things we so often forget. The lessons contained within his most recent post, Disconnect, summarise my current thought processes exactly. It’s been swirling around in my head all day. The destruction idleness and inactivity brings. The liberation that focus and creation delivers.

Derek got into the zone several times throughout his life. Shutting out all distractions and sitting alone in solitude. Those spaces bred great moments for him, not only in the conceptualisation of ideas but also in personal happiness.

Reading about his escape to a coastal Oregon house to make music reminded me of a week I once spent at home alone during the Christmas holidays at University. They were only seven days but I got through a book a day, worked out and only left the house to go food shopping once. I remember that week, and the solitude I felt, not as crushingly lonely but as strangely happy. Not speaking to anybody was fairly easy to do.

I wonder then if disconnection has become harder to cultivate as I’ve got older. It might sound a little counter-intuitive but my suspicions, largely guided by the difficulties I felt starved of human interaction during a 10-day long meditation retreat, tell me as much. The advancing years, it seems, have seen me move closer to others and the comfort that interacting with them brings.

Perhaps I’m getting this wrong though. On the flip side it might be just that I appreciate the presence of other people more. That the steadfast and fierce independence of my youth has dampened, just like most things, through the passage of time.

Is it that I’ve grown into someone that cherishes social connection more than I did as a young adult? Someone craving separation through defence and self-preservation rather than through human need?

That’s where writing like this comes in useful. It helps to shed light on the place I’m occupying now as I look forward to moving into the future. Someone who can’t help but change but takes nourishment from acknowledging where they’ve been.

And also a reminder about what might be something of a remedy.