The Digital Noise in Our Computers, Our Phones, and Our Minds

I had a dream about an ex-girlfriend last night. In the dream, I was being ignored (as I am in real life) by this woman. My younger self might have been angry or frustrated by my un-explained exile from this person’s life, but these days, I just feel disappointed. As the much over-played Gotye song says, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”.

It’s hard to spend time and energy investing in someone else’s story, only to be cut off completely. There’s a feeling of incompletion, like reading two-thirds of a book, and then discovering the ending is missing. As much as I’d like to talk to her, she decided that I was no longer going to be a part of her story. That’s fine, but sometimes I wonder how much of that decision was my fault, and I start exploring that eternal space that exists between what happened and what could have happened differently.

Now, every time I see a picture of her, her name in my phone, or anywhere else online, I’m reminder of my failure. In the past, I might see an ex around town, from time to time. Now, I can revisit that pain digitally every day. Lucky me, right?

Burn it all down

My friend Sean almost lost his website this week. A plugin broke his wordpress site, and his backup system had been down for awhile (unbeknownst to him). Luckily, his host had a backup, so he only lost a couple of days of work (which is like a month of work for any normal person).

He ended up doing a podcast episode about it, and while it was interesting to hear about what happened, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the subject matter.

What if?

Let’s imagine that your house caught fire, and you had 2 minutes to grab stuff before you had to get out. You have 3 trips full of anything you can carry in your arms.

What would you choose?

For me, it would be my Macbook, my drum shells & cymbals, and my T-shirts. These are the only things in my house that would be difficult to replace (my Macbook was very expensive, and I make my living with it, my drums are rare and expensive, and my T-shirts are fairly rare, hard to replace).

During that moment, I’d have clarity about what is important to me. What can’t I live without?

After thinking about that for a minute, I started wondering. “Why do I have the rest of that stuff?”

I want to take a minute to think about the small, unimportant, or distracting things that surround me.

The extra crap in my life

The biggest evidence of this is my address book. There are names of people that were never important to me, or people that just remind me of events I’d rather not re-live. And yet, there they are. Just names I’ve collected in a digital book, things that never get used, that serve no purpose.

Reflecting on my address book, I started thinking. How many other things do I have just hanging around in my life that remind me of failures or don’t serve any useful purpose? Why don’t I do housecleaning and start removing the clutter so I can focus on the important stuff?

The conversations in my head

If you’re anything like me, you talk to yourself (in your mind) all the time, trying to figure out other people’s motivations, or the reasons they behave the way they do. I spend a large amount of time thinking about why I do the things I do.

I’m striving to not have those conversations in my head. I want peace of mind, and mindfulness. I want to be in the moment with whatever is happening there. Present in the moment.

Some things I need to forget about. I don’t need to keep re-visiting failures. I should be looking forward. What will I do differently next time? What should I be doing right now?

What is REALLY important to me?

Back to the fire: if I lost everything tomorrow, how would I start over? If there are things that would be impossible to move forward without, I need to create backups, and then create backups of my backups. I should save money to have in case I need to replace essential equipment and tools. I need to have the resources in place to be able to keep moving forward.

Digital Cleanup Day

I’m resolving to have a digital cleanup day; a day every month where I’m going to go through my iPhone, my address book, my photo gallery, my backups, etc, and clean out. I’m going to start a fire, in a way.

I’m also going to apply this same thinking to the people in my life. Who are the important ones? Who should I be spending time with? Are there people I’m thinking about, investing energy in, that I shouldn’t be? Why am I still wasting time on them?

My hope is that I can identify things in my life that are sapping my brain power and energy, and address them. Maybe that means deleting some things. Maybe it means letting go, or addressing a situation.

I know I should be moving forward, not digging around in the past. So I’m off to find an imaginary gasoline can and some matches. Delete. Delete. Delete.