This dieting thing has got me thinking about a lot of different things…which usually trickles back to my own behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes. At the same time that I am dieting, I am plowing through a book by Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest, titled, “Falling Upward.” This is my 3rd attempt at reading it. In the past I get all caught up in my own idea of “goodness” and I get in a mental downward spiral where reading it is such a chore, exhausting even. But, I keep getting called back to it. This, by the way, is very similar to my relationship with the Bible. I have a real Love-Hate relationship with that book. So anyway, because of Rohr’s topic of moving into the 2nd half of life – which is not a chronological thing, but more of a spiritual growth thing – and because I am thinking about what else I would like to do in life, I am starting to question my mindset beyond from just what food I put in my mouth.
(Stay with me here; my logic is often non-linear.) I enjoy many of the social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud (my favorite), Youtube, and WordPress. I am amazed at the number of countries where people have listened or read my words, whether in song, prose, or video/audio formats. In Soundcloud alone, people from 236 countries have listened (or began to listen) to one of my songs. With my WordPress blog, this one, people from 43 countries have read what I have written. For a guy just hanging out in Northern California, this amazes me. Several of those people have become important supporters of my creative growth and hopefully they feel the same about me.
However, it is the very quantification of social media that I just bragged about that is a stumbling block for me and I bet others too. There is an “affirmation” trap built into all of those aforementioned social media platforms…the views and the so-called “likes.” I began getting into social media as a way of trying to break away from an incessant form of self-criticism, including a concern about the opinions of others regarding my creative desires and attempts. It is so much apart of me, I fear my dna has been altered and this trait will be passed down to future generations. To get over it, I decided to post silly things, rough recordings of songs, and some vulnerable exploration of self. Yet, as often seems to happen when dealing with invisible powers, I soon began tracking how many plays, views, likes, and comments I received in any given time frame. It is as if I ended up back at the starting line with no progress being made, no real journey taken.
It is not Soundcloud’s fault, it is my own struggle with affirmation – which by the way even when I get it, it brings very little joy, I just want more of it. I think they call it the “Un-fillable Hole.” Richard Rohr would probably say it is more of a 1st half of life, ego-dominated, sort of thing. It might be very useful in the 1st half, but a true “threshold guardian” for those wanting to pursue a deeper journey into the 2nd half of life experience, where one recognizes their own soul. (Carl Jung’s disciples would enjoy Richard Rohr’s book very much as he refers constantly to Jung’s words and theories including the idea of two halves of life.)
So where does this lunchbox thing come in? Well, it not just social media affirmations that is troubling. Since starting this diet, eating out for lunch is not a very good choice for me- as our elementary teachers would say. I need to bring specific foods to work to replace a previously carbohydrate-saturated diet and I had a perfect lunchbox at home to carry such foods. Problem is, I work at a university where very few people would carry a workman’s style lunchbox with them. I became concerned what the casual observer or staff member might think. Would they laugh at the sight of me carrying a lunchbox which is more commonly found at a construction site than a university? (I have never in 20 years seen someone carrying one to work where I am employed.)
The first day I brought it to work, I stuffed it into my backpack and removed it once I was inside my office. I did the same thing this morning until I got out of my vehicle to enter the building where I work and I began to think about Rich Rohr’s lessons. I knew I was stuck in an ego-protected vision of myself and the only way to escape was to take out the lunchbox and carry it for all to see. All seems kind of silly now that I think about it, but I think that is part of 2nd half of life thinking – it ALL seems kind of silly. Developing a reputation, protecting your turf, expanding your influence, or maybe better said in social media terms – “getting likes, views, comments, and shares” are real hindrances in finding a deeper relationship with Life.
That is how social media and my lunchbox came to be connected, odd as it might be.