I am deeply worried. About where our current lifestyles are taking us. And what our habits, addictions and devices are doing to us.
A few days ago I was on a train from Stockholm to Gothenburg. On that particular train, that stretch is covered in four hours. Across from me were a couple. Somehow they caught my attention. Everything they wore looked new and shiny. They walked in with bags from Burger King and proceeded to eat a couple of burgers each, washing them down with bucket-size mugs of (what I assumed was) soda. All the while both of them were entranced by the large screens of their mobile phones, that had that sheen of the latest (and most expensive model). Both had headphones on. That also looked expensive. The woman had most definitely had 'work done' in her face. The nose had that generic, 'done' look, and the lips were large and swollen. Shortly after the burgers were eaten, the woman got up and walked to the restaurant car. She re-emerged with two cups of coffee, a can of coca-cola, two bags of candy (the kind that's basically only gelatin, food coloring and sugar). She proceeded to stuff herself with all of that while watching her screen. The man pulled out a couple of cans of beer from his bag that he drank. Only occasionally did they remove their headphones to speak to each other.
Meanwhile the train was chugging through a gorgeous landscape of farms, fields, forests and little towns. That day the cloud formations were spectacular, like every style of cloud that exists was on display, but in miniature versions.
The man opened another can of beer. The woman kept on chucking the candies into her mouth. Taking slugs of coffee, alternating with coca-cola.
When she had finished all of that, the man handed her a can of beer too, which she drank.
It's not just them. It's all of us. Me too.
It seems that we are so out of touch, so damn out of sync, so lost. That all we know how to do is to numb ourselves with food, drink, intoxicants, TV, internet, social media and consumption. Thinking that this is the solution to the problem when in reality it's what's rapidly bringing us down. We are trapped in a hamster wheel. And there are many forces that really want to keep us there.
A couple of weeks ago, I was hiking in Swedish Lapland. Up there, close to the skies, and above the tree-line, there is no mobile phone signal. No wifi. So no calls, texts, whatsapps or emails.
I have a very low tolerance for stress these days. And I experience stress in a very physical way. I get chest pains. My stomach works poorly. Sometimes I get a tension headache that lodges itself behind one eyeball like a shard of glass. I sometimes beat myself up about it: What kind of yogi are you? Queen of Stress!
Actually, I have come to believe that through practicing yoga and meditation, I have become more sensitive. And in some instances that sensitivity can feel like a weakness. I don't do long flights very well. I have a low tolerance for stress. My body repels certain foods. I am more aware. When you slow down, there is time to take more information in.
Before I was just motoring through everything, pushing myself, taking too much on. I wasn't listening to my body. And my body was punishing me. Through severe back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, IBS, Helicobacter pilori, acne etc.
These days I am no longer able to override the first signals of something being wrong. And therefore it seems that I have a lower tolerance for stress.
Being without phone and internet for a week was absolutely glorious. I felt so free, so light (despite carrying a big packpack for 15- 26 kilometer a day). My hiking friend and I were talking without interruptions from our devices, without having to google something. Without showing each other any youtube videos ... But as soon as we came off the mountain to a place where there was phone reception AND wifi my phone went mad with blings and stress shot straight to my belly. The peace was gone. And suddenly I felt the inexplicable need to update my Instagram ...
Of course I asked myself why, but couldn't really come up with a good enough answer ...
I was on that train from Stockholm to Gothenburg, because I was heading to a music festival in Gothenburg. At this festival I was again overwhelmed by the sad state of affairs. So many audience members seemed to be watching the concerts, only through their iphones. And even a friend of mine, who claimed she really loved the performance by Perfume Genius, but spent more times capturing the artist's awesome stage moves, and posting them on social media, than enjoying the electricity of a one-time experience. And she is not alone. Then, after the show, she was attached to her phone as if it was an umbilical chord, because now she had to count likes, and respond to comments. It's all so meta.
It's all so sad. What are we doing to ourselves?
Who and what are we living for?
Can't we have an experience without letting the world know about it?
Again, it's been proven (again and again) that social media makes us unhappy. And I feel it in my bones. It makes me unhappy and distracted. It takes me away from my centre. My centre that truly is the eye of the storm.