How can I entertain myself? Where’s the next mindless stream of drivel I can distract myself with? What do I need to turn off my brain?
In this world of ever-present distractions, it can be challenging to live in the present moment—to exist and to be who we really are (see Exist).
The world seems designed to ensure that we always have sufficient distraction to never have to be alone with ourselves. Why is that? Have modern people become so lazy that they can’t bear the thought of reflection? Have we become so distracted that we’re not able to spend time with our own thoughts?
Some extremes we experience may be very positive. Others may be the result of injustice or inequality. In the course of our lives, we have to navigate those extremes and understand their nature.
Some of our extremes are very pleasurable. For example, being out all day in the cold, and then sitting in front of a roaring fire pit. Feeling really hungry and eating a delicious meal. Exercising to complete physical exhaustion, followed by flopping onto a coach for a period of rest and stillness. Sleeping under a comforter in a pocket of warmth on a cold winter’s night.
Of course, that first question is a biggie. Some people go their whole lives without figuring that out. There are many aspects to what makes up a person, and we all need to explore them for ourselves.
We also have to decide how to express who we are.
When I play music, I have a set of what I call my “gig shirts,” which are colorful or otherwise interesting. Lately, I’ve been thinking, “Why can’t I wear these shirts when I go out or get together with friends?” I wore one of them at my family’s Thanksgiving get-together and my brother Jimmy asked, “Does the store where you got that shirt sell any men’s clothes?” (HAHAHA!!). But the point is, these shirts aren’t what I normally wear.
Do you feel the need to make sure people are aware of your successes and triumphs?
I mean, what good is success if no one knows about it, right? Seems simple enough, but being a braggart or a show-off is never very attractive in a person. It really depends on the way we reveal what we’ve accomplished.
From a very young age, people have an innate urge to show off. From doing something to impress our parents (“Dad, look at me!”), to trying to impress a coach or a teacher, to trying to win over that first crush, exhibiting ourselves to impress others is very much part of the human condition.
You hear people with relatively affluent suburban lives saying this. Although it might mean that the person is actually hungry, it’s more likely that they just want some food, either because they’re looking forward to a meal, they’re thinking about a certain food, or they’re just bored.
Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are actually starving in the world.
Whenever my son says this, or something like this, I remind him that he’s not actually starving and ask him if he actually feels hungry. I ask him to pay attention to the signals his mind and body are sending him and to identify them intentionally. I also tell him that it’s OK to periodically be hungry. Maintaining a hungry feeling can be healthy—it can train us to not immediately start wolfing down food when we have that feeling. We’re not meant to be full all the time.