You’re in Information Burn-Out – Read this, Then Go Outside.
Culture is not what your hands touch,
it’s what moves your hands.
We’re in a time of radical uncertainty. Probably, you don’t like it much. And, by now, you may be sick & tired of how reflexively you turn to your screens and click. For information? For distraction? All you want is some relief – some peace – some inkling of clarity.
But here’s the thing. No amount of information can, or has ever, defeated the fact of uncertainty. The natural world lives with intricate exchanges of information, but all of that occurs in and with uncertainty.
The tired impulse to force what is emerging into immediate shape and form arises from an incomplete understanding of human life in and with all of life – of what we’ve been calling Full Ecology.
It’s not that information isn’t useful, even necessary to good decision making. Yet these days, it’s painfully evident that information alone will never be the solution. It can only, ever reflect what we think we know after the fact. Culture functions best when it’s dynamic – changing as information changes, allowing us to modify our stories. In this way information is only ever a tool – a partial view. It can be helpful, but it cannot create a specific outcome.
That’s why you’re tired of it. Information is incapable of delivering sustained clarity. At best, it’s a thumbtack, temporarily anchoring larger perspective, bringing a moment of focus. But we shouldn’t expect from it what it can’t deliver.
Not one life on Earth – not yours, not anyone’s – can exist without uncertainty. COVID-19 – a front-end example of the unpredictable expressions of a damaged environment – makes that uncertainty impossible to ignore. The headlines, the cute cats, the health & beauty secrets, and the endless litter of ‘x’ things to make you interesting or to make you safe – none of these will help much.
So, look to the expert. Go outside.
Leave the screens behind. Get quiet. Pay attention. Watch how the natural world around you lives with information it receives in the moment, while the future remains uncertain. This is Mystery. It’s who you are, who we are as humans – one natural species among the multitude.
Go outside. or at least look outside.
Rest a bit with those kin.
I agree with getting outside. One of the changes from COVID 19 is that I used to go to 24 Hour Fitness and do my exercising there. Now, I am doing outside walks and it has been so pleasant, I think I will not go back to being on a treadmill inside, even though I probably do not get the aerobic benefit. It’s also helping, I’m sure, with Vitamin D levels. It will be more of a challenge to walk outside during the winter, but I feel committed to find the right gear so it can happen!
Pretty much love this Sherwin quote: “I think I will not go back to being on a treadmill inside.” The inner treadmill. May we all follow your lead and leave it behind!
Is it ok If I went outside before I read it?
Read this and now going outside! Lots of love.
Thank you, Mary! This is such a great reminder of the value of being aware and present and of finding your own way to cultivate those qualities. For many of us sharing this journey with you and Gary, being in nature is indeed a powerful way of coming back to the present moment. Maybe the harder part is finding ways to do so when we can’t be outside. I wrote myself a note a few months ago to help with this. It just says “one thing at a time”. When I look at it, it reminds me that the clarity we need and want is there if we can pay attention even – or especially – during the seemingly mundane moments (including liking cute cat pics).
Right, John. Even cute cats are right there in the flow of life unfolding. Great point. So many ways to “go outside” of the usual story.
Thanks, Mary and Gary. I agree … being outdoors helps push this nagging feeling of uncertainty into the realm of mystery, which for me is a healthier and more fascinating way to look at our inextricable relationship with all life communities “in our house”.