Why It Sucks To Be In Multiple Places At Once
February 19, 2013 9 Comments
Do you ever have days you just don’t feel completely present — like there’s something between you and the outside world? Or where you’re physically present, but mentally somewhere else?
- With family, but wanting to check that newly arrived text message
- In a meeting, but worrying about the emails you’re falling behind on
- On vacation, but dreading the last day when you’ll mourn that it’s over
I’m sure you’ve got your own examples (I’d love to hear about them in the comments).
So here’s the question: Why is it so hard to be fully alive in the present? Why is it that we’re often (mentally) somewhere else?
For me, one root-cause seems to be my addiction to
feeding on rapid bits of information. With technology that makes reaching others (and information) just a few swipes away, I’ve developed a pattern of information dependence and mental multitasking that leaves me fragmented and in multiple places at once.
Like any addiction, I feel this pattern has re-wired the way my brain works. When I’m in this zone, I literally feel my brain yearning for another dopamine hit: one more tweet; one more news story. One more email.
I feel this pattern robs me of the present, and in doing so, steals the experience of life as it unfolds. My present is filled with thoughts of other times, places, or things — but rarely, of the right now.
When I feel disconnected, it’s as if I’m living life through an old radio, the kind you turned a dial to get a station (maybe I’m dating myself). If you weren’t completely on the signal, you could certainly hear a bit, but it wasn’t completely clear — and often filled with crosstalk from other stations.
Yet, at other times, I feel completely dialed in. I feel present, calm, and able to process and experience my surroundings. No crosstalk.
I don’t think it is possible to perpetually live in this zone, but I think it is worth cultivating a practice of intentionally seeking it. That’s what I’m looking for. Are you?
So what about you? Do you feel “being in other places” is a problem? If so, what do you do to re-ground yourself? How do you practice being present and aware?