Disengage the digital and engage the mind.

I’ve been having trouble focusing on my writing recently. I might claim writing’s the most important thing in my life  – after my family –  but over the past few weeks I’ve not been giving it the attention it deserves or requires. To try and help get my focus back, I picked up a copy of MANAGE YOUR DAY from Kindle and have been working my way through it.

One contributor to the book remarked that we can’t seem to allow ourselves to enjoy the moment nowadays – that faced with a few minutes of ‘spare time’ we immediately plug ourselves in to some kind of electronic device (phone/e-reader) and cut ourselves off from the world.

So…long story short.  About an hour ago I found myself waiting for a bus downtown. (Last time I used transit, a single adult fare was $1.65.  Now it’s $3.) My immediate response was to pull out my Kindle, but then I thought: Wait a minute. Doesn’t that mean I’m doing exactly what the writer of the book says I shouldn’t do?

So, from 1402h to 1406h, on 5th and 5th in Downtown Calgary, I put down my Kindle, and this is what I saw.

A car that had bronze rims – instead of silver – over black tyres. They looked really cool.

A slim guy, in running gear, running along the sidewalk, discussing a business deal while talking on his phone – he was so fit that he was neither breathless nor breaking a sweat. 

A slim guy, in a business suit, running along the sidewalk (late for a business meeting?) red in the face and out of breath.

Two food trucks driving past.  City council okayed them a while ago – must try one out sometime. 

The bright blue metal transit seat I was sitting on had an open mesh/grated design.  Is that because we get snow in the winter and it melts easier?

A burst of laughter from five window cleaners across the street taking a break.  Four guys, one girl (with blue hair). What does it feel like to clean the 40th floor windows?  And how do you prevent yourself from getting a blue face when you dye your hair that colour?

A few people wearing ear buds on their iPods (closing themselves off to the world – according to the book) but quite a few people wearing headphones of really funky colours.

It’s 20C out today, so quite a few open top cars.

Several men of ‘a certain age’ wearing ponytails.  Is that because they grew up in the seventies… or an attempt to hide their bald patches?

I ‘unplugged’ for four minutes and collected a wealth of data for setting a scene in a downtown location.  Am I likely to use it in the near future?  Probably not, but you never know. But what if we, as writers, take four – oh, go on, make it five – minutes each day to unplug and just look, listen, smell and feel what’s going on around us?  Imagine the detail we’d have for our stories.

BTW, if you’re on a Calgary bus, trying to exit out the back door, and don’t want to look like a total numpty who hasn’t been on one since the fare was $1.65, a word of advice: when the green light goes on above the door, you PUSH the door open!  :o)


2 thoughts on “Disengage the digital and engage the mind.

  1. Don’t really mean to drown you in quotations, but these lines are from a poem I learned at school and never been able to forget:

    “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?”

    He goes on for a few lines with suggestions of what to stand and stare at, then finishes:

    “A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
    W H Davies (1871-1940)

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