Monday, September 27, 2010

A Coupon Fantasy

I think most of us would agree that time is incredibly valuable. I find myself longing for more of it nearly every day.

Since I can't and don't want to throw away my entire life and relocate myself to a desert island, what's needed is something that would stretch my present portion of time the way coupons stretch purchasing power at the grocery store.

I don't want to become too excited just yet, but I may have stumbled upon just such a thing.

Ssss...The Sound of Your Brain Undistracted
It seems to me that being Van Winkled from all that's going on in the larger world has given me a bit more time. How much? I do know that Mon-Fri I get dinner from oven to plate more quickly because from 5:30-6 p.m. I'm no longer trying to watch network evening news at the same time I'm stirring a sauce or breaking out the brocolli. And I know more than 15 minutes a day were once taken up in my reading the local newspaper and leafing through magazines and catalogs.

Have I perhaps gained as much as a 25 minutes a day?

More importantly, beyond the extra ticks on the clock, could it be that distancing myself from what the rest of the world is doing has cleared out my brain? It's probably too soon to make a firm declaration, but I am sensing that I feel as if I'm more open to 1) pleasurable, 2) focused, 3) sustained experiences. I feel less distracted.

Here's one example. I'm reading more books than I have in years. (Including a certain 500+ page novel "everyone's talking about" which will be a subject of a future post.)

It could be I've encountered a legitimate phenomenon that occurs when a human being pulls away from electronic media and other forms of information overload. Let's call the resulting state of contentment Distraction Deflation (DD). It's like an over-pressurized balloon finally being able to exhale in a long, satisfying sigh. It feels pretty good and apparently I'm not alone in thinking so.

Another Personal-Social Experiment
Over the summer the New York Times issued what they called an "Unplugged Challenge" to its on-line readers. They asked them to create videos describing what happened when they gave up some form of technology for a short time.

Many people quit checking email or Facebook. Others set aside their cell phones. Then they posted videos about what it was like. All of them mention being surprised by how much calmer they felt and how it was easier to concentrate as they shed their electronic-cyber restlessness the way a snake escapes a confining skin.

It's worth checking out the videos:

A Question (Per Chance to Dream)
Here's a thought experiment...

Ask yourself what you would do if someone handed you a 25 minutes/day coupon good for at least one year.

To make it more real you might talk to someone about you fantasy response to the question. Then, if you feel inspired, pass it on. Ask them what they fantasize doing with the 25 minutes/day coupon.

NY Times Idea: Unplug Yourself! (and use wall cleat by Karl Zahn)


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