Choosing a Sunset Over a Stream

To my left, the last waves of evening sun danced through the downtown haze. I'm lucky enough to be just standing on a train platform soaking it in. It's one of a paltry few cloudless days in the city: one of those that make London feel liveable and humane.

Admittedly, the dusty yellow skyline doesn't have my full attention but I do consciously receive its generous wash of gentle warmth. This small moment of reflection is a reward that's been hard won. You see, I've chosen to be less present in my native land—the expansive digital plains of the Internet—so I could afford more time here, among the grimey brick and corporeal forms.

I talked about this earlier and better than that I kept my promise. I've barely used social media in months. I still check the news and have tweeted here and there, but my mindset has been more measured when doing so.

It's easy to get stuck on a hedonic treadmill and sometimes that feels like the right call. However, the habit of checking your follows/replies/likes/whatever is a pretty ugly one. It's insidious because it feels innocent, normal even. Check your phone when your partner goes to the bathroom. Check when you're stuck in a queue. Check when your phone buzzes on the table.

Each time your attention splits. Like a seeding dandelion, tiny fuzzy fragments of yourself in that moment drift away; you are still present, true, but how present is that? Are you comfortable giving three-quarters of your attention to your colleagues, or half to your friends, while those other parts whirl around your various feeds?

I'm no spiritual guide to model yourself after (giant metaphysical eye, remember?) but try focusing for an entire conversation. Just one.1 Give that moment to the people you're with, or, just as important, back to yourself. Enjoy a sunset or afford yourself a quiet moment of solitude at the robo-checkout you're so fond of.

It's a choice you have to make for yourself. I've made it a few times and hopefully will a few more times. Who knows when I'll run out of sunsets.


  1. Unlike many, I'm not here to preach abstinence. I don't believe absolutes are sustainable. Aim for one more moment of full in-the-momentness than yesterday. If you're picking up what I'm putting down, then try cutting out some social media accounts out of your normal routine. You'll have to season to taste, you dig? 

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