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The Paywall of Life

A friend of mine recently wrote to tell me about the way they have been experiencing time lately. Undefined. Random. Without order or sense.

All of the days of their week missing the first part of the word to become “____day”, and time itself becoming meaningless and pointless.

Between the pandemic and the political environment I think we’ve all felt that way at some point over the last few years.

I’m writing this to tell you it’s normal.

You are not losing your mind.

You know how when you’re surfing the internet and come across an article that looks interesting but when you click the link you can see just enough of the article to know it’s there but are unable to read it because a big pop up asking you for money blocks it out?

That’s called a paywall.

When you find yourself feeling like my friend, well, you’ve essentially hit a paywall and the story hidden behind it, the part you can’t get to, is life.

You can see life rolling onwards and outwards, carrying all the things that happen in life like Mondays and Wednesdays and 5:35 pm, but you’re not really a part of it because you haven’t paid the fee to get past the paywall and there you are. Outside of time itself.

It is the result of isolation, a topic I have many years of personal experience with because of how I live and work.

Watching life from a distance can be disorienting and that can make you feel uncomfortable but it’s not a bad thing.

It is, in fact, necessary and healthy from time to time. It can be cathartic.

Watching the world go about it’s business while you view it from this perspective can bring insights you are unable to have when you are knee-deep in life.

Your personal entry continues whether or not you participate in the bigger story.

Because time doesn’t exist inside your little bubble you can easily separate yourself from the struggles and headaches that can bog you down and wear you out.

So use that time. It is a gift. Just don’t plan on staying there forever.

Like most things, if allowed to go on for too long, or embraced fully, it can become harmful. Eventually you will feel like too much life has happened to be able to work yourself back into the story.

That’s a false belief, by the way. So long as you live, and for long after, you remain a part of the story of life. Your personal entry continues whether or not you participate in the bigger story.

Therein lay the solution, if you’re so inclined to find one, and, like most solutions, it sounds easier than it is.

The price of the paywall is participation.

That is, you need to begin writing yourself back into the story.

That means intentionally choosing to do things that require you be aware of those things you are now overlooking. Like what day it is or what time it is or when you go to bed or wake up.

There are many ways to begin. Find an event to attend. A show to see. Perform daily routines. A walk in the morning after breakfast. Exercise in the evening. Wake for a sunrise and watch a sunset or the phase of the moon.

That last one is something I do regularly and that’s why I’ve written so much about the full moon. It’s a way of keeping track of the day and date and as a result I find myself thinking and writing about her influence. Simple and effective.

While doing so can be challenging it’s just a decision to live intentionally and intentional living is a lot easier than allowing life itself to determine when you’ll rejoin it because sooner or later you will be thrust back into the story whether you want it or not and that can be a shock to the system. Like being wakened by a loud sound or shaken from a pleasant dream.

Anyway, try not to worry about it. It really is normal. Use this time to see the world from the outside. From the sidelines. Timelessness has its own unique beauty and comfort that can’t be found anywhere within the world of schedules and clocks and days with names.

Enjoy the view for a while and, when you’re ready, pick up the pen of your life and write yourself back into the story.

Image by Aaron Boris.

Let me know what you think

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