Driving into work this morning, I had the radio playing some pop station. My mind was wandering, but not all that far down any particular path.
I clicked it off, and this is what I thought about:
The world used to be much quieter. Living must have been much quieter. Music was not always something you had in the home playing in the background, unless everyone was constantly singing. Possibly in the evenings someone might have the time to pick up an instrument and entertain folks, or a traveling group of musicians might come through town, but in between these events there was not the constant drone of semi-storied lyrics floating through people’s thoughts.
The same thing applies to plays / movies. These used to be an event, again a troupe passing through town, or the local theater, or eventually a movie theater. With space in between. Not the glowing box in every home, streaming various alternate realities into our lives first thing in the morning, or last thing at night.
And books. They used to be rare, prized, and less book-warehouse-ee.
Athletics events: Used to require participation or at least attendance, and they were not every day options. Certainly not available to watch from a couch at any time of the day, every day.
I’m not sure if video games have a historic analogous activity. At risk of stretching too far to find one, let’s say role playing games preceded video games, and look at secret societies as a distant cousin. Or possibly crusades. Play acting in an effort to live a life more grand than what you have right now. Again, gathering to chant in robes, or go kill the heathens, took commitment, activity, and was not something done any day, in between other activities.
All forms of entertainment. Or, if that raises your hackles, things that occupy the mind.
Let’s not think about the issue of quality and quantity. I’m sure folks have strong feelings about quality, either the erosion of it in these forms of art/entertainment, or the perseverance. I’m sure it has nothing to do with their professional or academic investments.
I am just struck by the amount of time a mind is occupied with these external stimulants. Not whether the mind is weakened/numbed by the onslaught we experience today, again I imagine this would be a contentious place to step, but with the restriction on the amount of time the mind has to pursue its own ends.
How often do you unplug and let your mind wander?
When was the last time you really thought about something, and something you found in your own mind, not something that was stimulated by a piece of entertainment? How much time did you allow your mind to contemplate? Did you follow the thought as far as it would lead, or did you get distracted?
You may notice a theme with my last post…
What would come out of all our minds if they weren’t kept so busy processing what, I humbly submit, is busy-work?
A thought for another day, is it a good thing all that raw possibility is kept in check? Is there an equal chance that the potential of our species, while huge, could be hugely catastrophic instead of glorious?
What purpose does it serve to keep ourselves zonked for fear of finding out?
A large part of me is yelling “let’s get on with it, whatever it is.”