"Most of my parents' friends and most of my parents' friends' children, also have degrees. This doesn't mean that they've managed to find the kind of work they wanted. Not at all; they went to university because someone, at a time when universities seemed important, said that, in order to rise in the world, you had to have a degree. And thus the world was deprived of some excellent gardeners, bakers, antique dealers, sculptors and writers."
- Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
I always feel inspired when I travel. It's as if, as soon as I see the boarding gate approaching I feel a song coming on! Haha!
Sitting here at gate C15 at Dubai International airport, I feel an impending need to be in touch with the whole world at once. It's like this 'inspiration' is actually powered by nostalgia, or the need to share how I feel with everyone I know.
I want to tell everyone where I am, share my experience, let them know how happy I am, how privileged I am to be going to visit my family in Qatar, a half hour flight away, on one of my days off from an international tour, which I am also privileged to be a part of.
I can't just sit here and enjoy my music though, I feel the nostalgia building up inside of me, so I feel like talking to someone I know... but, it's more than that... I'm sure the nostalgia is something particular to me, I wear my heart on my sleeve, like so many other sensitive, intuitive, emotional people, but, I am sure that part of what I am feeling right now is something shared by the majority of people living in this modern society today, not just people who are nostalgic.
It is this need to know what everyone else is up to, this need to let everyone know what I'm up to, ''Oh look, a song that reminds me of my friend just came on, let me Snapchat him'', ''Oh look, an airport terminal, time to go on Instagram and show everyone how perfect my life is #nofilter'', ''Mmmm, I just bought a #tasty donut from #KrispyKreme, #LivingTheDream #OMG #ImSoFat #FatArseComingThrough #Barf''.
However, whenever I use my phone too much, I feel like I'm asleep. I look back at the past few minutes of my life and I can't remember anything concretely. It's all a blur. So, I've decided, instead of texting everyone as soon as I'm alone, to start writing, at least that's useful to me in many ways.
Because let's be honest, there isn't much use in letting everyone know what you're listening to, what you're eating, what you're feeling, thinking, what you're doing every waking moment of your life. There isn't, because it's all artificial. Everything you could possibly receive from speaking to someone face to face cannot be achieved by using a phone. Therefore, all you get is a temporary relief, a temporary feel-good-feeling of ''they know what I'm up to''. You slowly lose the pleasure of being face to face, you slowly become desensitized to people's feelings, you end up spending time on your phone even when you are in the presence of other human beings, you start feeling greater pleasure from letting someone who's 5,000 miles away know what you're up to, than speaking to the person right in front of you. Not only does this make me feel like emotionally, this must be limiting and debilitating, but I'm sure there is also an enhancement of our disconnection to the rest of the world occurring. And I mean the 'real' world. The world that's always around you, just waiting to be admired, not the world that's only around you when you have battery on your phone.
I seem to have a vague recollection, pieced together naturally - without any effort from me - from diverse conversations I've had throughout my life, that if everyone decided to follow their dreams the world wouldn't work...? Is that actually a general consensus? I'm not sure, but something tells me that more than one person has given me this sceptic view on living life. What would happen, if everyone actually decided to follow their dreams? Perhaps, we would just have a happy world. Who knows? It's not like everyone has exactly the same dream, I mean, what would be of the colour blue, if everyone liked yellow? I know people who are just as passionate about business as I am about music, but that's not something that was taught to them. They always had it in them. That's definitely not something they learnt at university, or a passion that they acquired by having their parents tell them, 'you need to get a job that can pay the bills, you need to get some security - go and study business, because that's what everyone does when they don't know what they want to do.' No, trust me, there are plenty of dreams to go around, so I think everyone should follow their dreams. The world would definitely be a happier place if everyone did exactly that.
What does that have to do with the rest of the post? Absolutely nothing. But, if I follow the train of thought through, how does the world we live in today affect people's ability to follow their dreams? More specifically, how does our use of technology and dependency on our phones, affect our ability to follow our dreams? My mind tells me that, in part, we are numb. Certainly less in tune with our hearts. And something else tells me that this is mostly caused by a staggering decrease in our attention span, and a momentous increase in the attention given to the ephemeral, the futile and the petty.
It really frustrates me when I'm talking to someone and they diverge their attention to check a Snapchat. I ask myself, 'is this person really that interested in what that other person is doing half a world away?' Every time I sit at a family dinner I notice a greater interest, from those around me, in checking up on what a friend is doing over 8,000 miles away, rather than paying attention to what's directly in front of them.
I feel the need to urge everyone, anyone, my friends, my family to stop using their phones so much. Just stop. Someone calculated how much time we spend per year on Facebook... I can't even remember what the average a day was, but it was a small one, less than most people spend on it, that's for sure... And it amounted to something like 2 or 3 weeks in a year of Facebook usage - and that's just Facebook! I could record an entire professional album in that time. I have rehearsed an entire musical in that time. I could probably learn the foundations of a new language in that time. Actually no, I'm trilingual, I could definitely learn the foundations of a new language in that time. Have I made my point yet? Does this matter to anyone? I feel like a picky, annoying, radical, arrogant, dick head for even writing this post. But, I shouldn't. And, I won't. I think I have a point. Ironically though, if it weren't for all of yous who spend hours on your Facebook feed checking what everyone else is up to, these posts would never get any traction!
Something in my heart tells me that if we were more in tune with our hearts, we'd all know exactly what we should be doing. And something else tells me that being on our phones all the time is not helping us get in touch with ourselves. In fact, it is an escape, there is no doubt about that. It is a way of doing precisely the opposite, to be outside of ourselves, to be interested in what someone else is doing, rather than spending time talking to ourselves and getting to know who we truly are.
I can think of a lot of people I know, friends and family, who would argue with me and say 'I know who I truly am.' But even then, they haven't taken the time to ask themselves, 'Am I who I truly am? Or am I what society has made me out to be?' Of course, we are a product of our environment and naturally, we all take influence from the world around us, those who teach us, our friends, family and our parents. But, why can't my environment be a product of me? Why can't I be so in tune with myself, so independent, so strong minded, so myself, that the environment I'm in changes, for the better, because of the way I am?
Just ask yourself, 'what can I personally do to change the world around me?' And there you'll find your own personal way of making the world a better place, and you will also find your own personal way of relating to the world, your own personal way of seeing the world, your own personal way of being you. Not the way of being you that is influenced purely by who you're with and what you see and what you hear... The way of being you that is the most genuine, the purest version of you, the version of you that you are when you're standing in front of a mirror by yourself.
Actually, let me amend that question: ask yourself, 'what can I personally do to affect the world around me, in a positive way, with as much power as the world around me affects me?' The word change is a difficult one because change isn't always a good thing, and it isn't always necessary, therefore, ironically, I changed the word to 'affect'.
We should strive to affect the world around us in a positive way. But, we shouldn't aim for an acceptable, mediocre effect... The world around us affects us in very powerful ways, not always positively either, quite often the world presents us with obstacles rather than advantages, so that's the equivalent amount of power with which we should strive to affect the world around us. Don't let anything stand in your way, conquer your obstacles, fuck shit right! But, first you need to be aware of yourself, then, and only then, can you choose what to affect and how to affect it. You need to be awake before you can get out of bed... Well, that's not exactly true, I sleep walk... But you get my point?