29. Rise

    The world was quieter, once.

    Once you could sit down in peace and solitude and focus with little fear of interruption. You could sit and read a book for hours. You could write computer programs. You could prepare a speech, write a poem, play the guitar, go on a walk, prepare a great meal, listen to vinyls and only ever pause the music to flip the record. You could focus for hours, thinking about one thing to the exclusion of all else. Once, we were probably even less stressed, less anxious about the dangers of sitting too long or dietary restrictions or missing out on something we were told once we should care about buying.

    Now, the world is loud. The world is integrated. Every few seconds there's a goddamn text message, a phone call, an email, a Snapchat app blinking at you that you know are bad for your health and attention span and probably your whole life, but border on being irresistible. The damn internet is calling every fucking second of the day, literally to the point that we have sleep problems.

    Our brains thrive, sometimes, on jumping around to a hundred places at once. It's like mind candy, our thought trains jumbled like spaghetti, ideas bouncing around and against each other like Yahtzee dice. It's good for our brains to be able to jump to another track on a moment's notice, or it certainly was when we worried that we were about to be eaten by a tiger. But to really learn, to focus, to get better at something, it's harder than ever to hush the noise.

    The rewards, consequentially, are higher, because fewer people rise above it. I've watched people both older and wiser than I succumb to the plague of Facebook feed refreshes and the fear of missing something, letting their lives drift toward the inevitable void instead of making something of their time. It's our nature to take the easiest route. Humans love things being simple. And the internet is a great tool. Yet letting it control us with its blinks and dings and phantom pocket vibrations while the rent is late, the love of your life walks by during your mindless scroll, you don't know the skill you need to get the job you want, and you're getting fatter from eating all that comfort food to compensate for how stressful and unfulfilling your life is how we become broken in heart and mind.

    This is not a political debate. The fucking Republicans say everyone except the millionaires should accept that their inflation-adjusted wage is falling; the fucking Democrats say you should be able to leech off the government in perpetuity. I say they're both wrong. I say the government is not going to solve your problems no matter who you vote for and what your creed is, and even if it does it'll be after such a long wait that they might as well have not solved the problem at all.

    This is not about Ayn Rand-ian selfishness or implausible communist ideals. This is not about starting a business and making lots of money if you don't want to, and it's not about pursuing an unrealistic dream. It's about you, and you alone, rising above the easy path and picking the right path for yourself.

    The danger is that not all people should follow the same path. There's no reason not to try things in such a long time on this Earth, but it's also dangerously stressful and unfulfilling to follow other people's dreams that you don't actually want for yourself. There's no reason not to follow your dreams, but it's also mental laziness to say you have a dream and never genuinely spend time in its pursuit. It does not do to dwell on all the reasons you can't do something, but there is also folly in trying to accomplish something you aren't equipped to accomplish.

    So quit scrolling through Instagram and bleed onto the page. Live life and then tell people about it.