We perpetually wade in a sea of noise. A sea of sound. A sea of visuals. A sea of sensory surplus. A sea of people, to-do’s, appointments, headlines, synthetic lights, clickbait, news, “news,” links, content, and the latest “Kiki, do you love me?” We are inundated with cell phone dings, rings, and email pings. There are pop-ups, banners, and little red circle badges—the reminders demanding our attention. Even our attempts to have “noiseless” noise still leave us with buzzing, haptics, and lights that we have become far too accustomed to.
Yet still we wade.
Or at the very least, we fiercely tread to make it appear as if we are wading on the surface. We have become experts at the above-water fake-out. We try to make it look as if we are floating around care-, struggle-, and sucka-free. But under the water, we are exhausting ourselves trying to keep up. We are depleting. We are doing the most and then doing more on top of it, trying to mask the “doing” that we’re doing. We just need someone to throw us a buoy for a second, or thirty. We need to swim to the shore and get out of the noise.
But we “can’t.” We have responsibilities. We have jobs and kids and significant others and opportunities and followers and comments and chores and emails and bills and Netflix marathons and workouts and yoga classes and and and….we just “can’t.” And we certainly can’t let anyone know how hard we’re actually treading underwater or the fact that we are one wave away from drowning. We just “can’t.” We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that we can’t be honest about the struggle.
Maybe it’s true that we can’t shut it all off. But maybe it doesn’t have to be completely silent to get some peace and quiet. Maybe we can tune in without totally tuning out. Maybe we can find our breath alongside the blaring Biggie beats, find focus without forgoing functionality, retreat without really riding off or writing anything off. We don’t necessarily need to escape in order to center. We can forget what’s going on around us by going inward. We just need a few minutes. I would much rather grab a buoy for a single moment than to wait until I have a clear path to swim to shore. Sometimes we can’t completely alienate ourselves from the noise, but we can definitely find peace within it.
How to “grab the buoy”:
Take some breaths amongst the chaos.
Breathe through the to-do’s and dings and rings and buzzing and headlines and responsibilities.
Let the gaze soften away from the lights of our screens.
Find the pockets of space in the mind between the constant swirl of everyday thoughts, replays of the past, and preoccupations with the future.
Pause in those pockets.
Return to your regularly scheduled hustle.
Throw the buoy to someone else, even if they don’t look like they need it.
Originally submitted for Issue 8 of Undo Magazine.
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