If I must confess, winter has never been my favorite time of the year. As I get older and the injuries of my youth provide a constant reminder of my age, I like it even less, but I have to remind myself winter is also a time of reflection and a time to gather yourself for what’s ahead. I know it sounds backwards from the typical, especially if you work the land; however, if you stick with me, you will find it will make sense.
Life is an ongoing learning and evaluation process.
The more you interact with the people and the environment around you, the more chances you have to learn, self-reflect, and grow as a person. The wiser you can become, if you open your mind to the possibilities. As I look into the ever-expanding landscape of the internet, I find there are people so set in their beliefs and political views it would be much easier to debate a wall or rock. These are the people that are quick to shut down any and dissenting view points, just because they “know” they are right and anyone not agreeing with must be a horrible person and befitting any name that they deem fit to throw at that person. In a simpler sense, they have stopped listening and starting throwing the mother of all tantrums because you hurt their feelings by not agreeing with them outright and partaking of the Kool-Aid they have offered. These are also people that tend to end relationships and friendships over politics. To me, they have not matured enough to agree to disagree, change the topic and move on to other things.
In my interactions with people on social media, I have found myself slipping into that mentality, from time to time, but have managed to pull myself out of the mire before I completely give in to the borg-like way of thinking. I have found it is easy to do, if you let yourself be so rigid in the way you think you cannot possibly fathom anyone NOT agreeing with you, and the mere idea that people don’t offends you.
Thoughts like, “How stupid are you?” and “Why can’t you just shut up and see it my way?” float to the surface along with, “I KNOW I am right, and they must be blind, if they can’t see it.”
These are thoughts that must be consciously purged, if we even hope to try to see it from the other’s point of view. It is easy to claim you are open minded. It’s more difficult to BE open minded. Even with facts on your side, there are those who will not be swayed. This is due to the fact they have given in to “what feels good” to them and not what the truth actually is. This is why discussions can quickly turn into name-calling and insults. This is also how a lot of people stop listening and start shouting into the void. At this point, there is no common ground to be found, even if you were looking for it. They have jammed the figurative fingers in their ears and starting humming.
There is never a time during the other seasons of the year I am able to sit back and really think about my actions, except for winter. I am too busy running around, trying to keep things together, constantly changing schedules, and trying to keep up with events. Time to sit and self-reflect is at a minimum during spring, summer, and fall. It is during the starkness and cold of winter that I am able to look inside myself, reflect upon the past year, and take a self-inventory.
What I have found out…
After over 30 years of trying, I still have a long way to go to control my temper. Yes, it had gotten to a point where I was ranting at my computer screen and even lashing out at a friend or two. Why? This is simple; I never took a step back and took a break from the internet and social media and let it all build up and get to me. My solution for this is quite simple: Don’t be on it for at least a day. This should be a snap. Right? Right. Wrong. If you are like me and live on the road, there are times during conversations with the driver that there is nothing to say and the overcast clouds make it impossible to catch a signal from the satellite radio, leading to silence. So, what do I do? I reach for the phone and get on social media.
I have to work on filling my off-media hours with writing, and other things. I will have to invest in non-electronic things to do in order to keep my mind off of getting online when the silence hits.
I have to remind myself of the fact I don’t have to respond to EVERY thing I see on the internet that gets my brain ready to discuss what is wrong with what they are saying. I have to practice my philosophy of “just keep scrolling”. It will be less stressful for me that way.
I also have to limit my time on social media during the day, taking 15-20 spurts and then taking a break for an hour or two. This should also help. Planning my day and setting a flipping timer should work, too -if I remember to set the darn thing.
This year should be better, no it WILL be better than the last. I WILL set goals and schedules, and I WILL follow them. Every year I do that, and every year I fall short. This year, I will make it a point to push myself to follow through, and tell my ADD to shut up. I will also be on alert for when my depression comes for a visit and do my damnedest best to work past it and not let it win, making me just sit and mope or curl up into a ball. This year WILL be different. It will be the year I will publish a novel. Just one is the goal. If I happen to publish two, I will jump for joy, but I am not ready to push myself THAT far yet.
Keep your mind open.