Yesterday was my 45th birthday. If you are reading this and are thinking "Oh my gosh, I didn't know", don't sweat it. I hid my birthday from facebook and didn't really need a whole flood of birthday wishes. My friends bless me every day with their compassion and humor and I'm quite happy without a bunch of "happy birthday"s on my wall.
Anyway, it was really a frustrating and emotional day. I finished a video game that I had been playing for a couple days and found the experience to be really aggravating. I won't tell you which game but it's certainly at the top of the list for 'worst game ever', mostly because of the ending.
I love games. Generally I get a good deal of inspiration and good vibes from them, but this game left me feeling like I had just spent a lot of time playing with a pile of poop. I was disgusted and felt dirty.
That experience sent me into a really contemplative and introspective mood.
What the heck am I doing with my life?
I guess a lot of people get in this kind of mood on their birthday, especially when you get to be about my age. Especially men. Men my age, a lot of them anyway, if they haven't already, go through the whole 'mid-life crisis' thing. The theory is that consciously or subconsciously guys realize that half their life is over and they think about all the things they want in life and haven't gotten so they dump their wife, buy a sports car and generally be a jerk.
Now I won't say I'm having a mid-life crisis. I often joke with my wife that I need a sports car or a motorcycle or 'can I have my mid-life crisis now?' but honestly, I really don't feel any sort of anxiety over being halfway to 90. Yes, on facebook I often whine about how much pain I'm in or how frustrated I am about my kids or politics and I rant and rave and generally make a fool of myself, but the truth is I love my life. I could do with a body that was less broken, but other than that I have an amazing wife, amazing kids, a decent place to live, clean water, and every now and then there is chocolate. Life is good.
So why the introspection and contemplation?
It's my health. I realized that I am carrying a lot of negative energy. During the election I spent a lot of energy expressing my opinions about Obama and Romney and the issues. I got really caught up in it. Was that good or bad? I don't think so. I think it's important to be involved in the political process and work with it to bring about the changes you want to see in the country and the world. But then the election was over. I was happy because most of the people I voted for won and I was looking forward to continuing to work with them (by communicating with them via email or other means) about the issues.
But I was left with this feeling of.... icky-ness. I had engaged in a lot of debates, but now that the election was over there was no more debates. I noticed that I started picking fights to get a debate going to try to regain that feeling of 'battle'. When I couldn't get anything going I had this feeling of just wanting to punch something.
Yea. A lot of negative.
So I determined, as I have many times in the past, that it was time to clean house and sweep out the negative. Starting with facebook.
I lost 2 facebook friends recently. One I'm not too disappointed to see go, the other I honestly consider a 'real life' friend, even though we haven't met yet and I hope though blogs or whatever we can still talk once in a while. But both cases are representative of how dependent I've become on facebook to be my window to the world. My 'real life' friend disconnected facebook so as to more fully live her life. I greatly respect that. I don't know if I can totally do that, since so much of my 'real life', between family and church and such, is connected through facebook, but I really admire her ability to 'shut it off'.
But since I'm not ready to do that, I can do other things. I've gone through my friends list and swept out some people that were like the other friend I mentioned - contributing little positive to my life. I sorted out my 'likes' and 'unliked' a lot of them, especially those that only share posts that are negative in nature. I regrouped my friends that were left and those that didn't seem to fit in groups of "family", "friends so close they are family", "church friends I like a lot", "church people I keep online for church business", or "friends whose opinions, humor, or shared items I really respect", I unfriended those as well.
Already my feed is much more positive and more a form of communication than a forum of ranting and raging.
I did the same for Twitter, YouTube, email notifications... everything. Took Pinterest and Tumblr out of my start up pages, I cleared out my RSS feed reader, unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs, and disconnected a ton of apps.
I feel lighter. Even though a lot of those things I rarely used, just the fact that I was connected to them and there was this build-up of crud just seemed to be weighing me down. Things seem cleaner and clearer.
So where do I go from here? Simplify. Clarify. Do this not just with my online life but real life. Clean out my cupboards and drawers. Get rid of a lot of this clutter that just seems be here for the sake of clutter. Do I really need a T-Shirt collection? Fun shirts are fun, but some of these old plain ones need to go. Sweat pants I don't wear? Gone.
I feel good.
But the day is over and now it's Saturday. Am I living differently today? No. Not really. Change takes time. It's easy to clean house, it's harder to rearrange it and buy new furniture. I can say "I'm simplifying" but saying and doing are two different things. I plan to write more. I plan to read more. But plans are just plans. The real test will be a year from now if the simplifying and clarifying are still going on.
Am I rambling? Probably. So what did I learn form yesterday's contemplation and introspection? That I need less negative in my life. News, politics, facebook drama, it's made me emotionally ill. I need positive. I need laughter and love and beauty and music. And I hope I can share more of the same with you.