Spare Cycles

I’ve had a very good year with respect to productivity, albeit — and if you follow this blog you’ll see a pattern — a sort of productivity that can have exhaustive consequences.

My partner and I went to a cottage in July for a week, and (I swear) I spent the first three days doing nothing more than staring out at the lake. During that time I barely read for any kind of pleasure, and I certainly didn’t engage with social media. What I really needed at that time was a canvas larger than myself; a moving/undulating canvas that was just as complex as I am, and yet, for lack of a better word, steadier. A model, if you will.

I’m very good at using whatever pockets of time are available to round off creative tasks, be it writing, revising or reading. Too good. I can end up feeling overwhelmed because the creative stuff is still labour, right? It ends up being a lot of work, divvied up between work-work and not-work-work-work.

Earlier today I was sitting in a quiet back patio, and I found myself staring at the unoccupied benches in front of me, subdued in indirect light, blanched in a sort of mossy green because of the clouds and the overhanging vines. And it was good to simply observe this for what it was. Not to seek meaning, but to take it all in. It was like the lake at the rented cottage, though harder to find in the city: quiet, empty, alive.

Stillness. It’s what I end up taking photographs of; people-less landscapes that are only indirectly inhabited. A suggestion of the human world around us within a pause.

This is why I’m stepping back (significantly, if not completely) from social media. There’s simply too much information, mixed with outrage, competitiveness and whatever else. Add to this the rise of auto-play videos (as on Instagram), and how that plays on my ability to focus, and it all drags on me terribly.


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