Enjoying the white space within

Being with yourself.

It was an idea I could never understand. People who want to spend time with themselves. Going solo trips. On hiking trips. It sounded scary to hear when you have read stories of people getting isolated on an island. Like what if you needed help. What if something happens. What if that what if this. Uncertainty of the future. 

Few years ago, I would have laughed if someone asked me to go for solo walk on nearby beach. Some people do that, taking a walk to clear their mind. It’s a not-so-extreme version of the solo trips. I used to feel sorry for such people thinking life is only meant to be enjoyed with other people. If you are alone then you are lonely. Years later I could understand and also reflect back that I have been lonely in crowded places too.

I used to complain as a child that I am getting bored. I don’t think I had these thoughts to run away from as a child but there was hyperactive energy in my mind to do something. I could see the same pattern in my child. I don’t label it boredom anymore. Instead it’s the unmet need of experiencing new activities to satisfy the bubbling inner curiosity.

Being on your own even if it’s for 1 hour or 1 year sound simple but may need confidence to be with yourself and be comfortable with yourself. And that is a self imposed roadblock with many who are running away from their mental chatter. When there are no distractions in the form of people, vehicles, or technology you are left with the voices in your head. Some say they don’t even hear it. I was surprised to hear that. Maybe it’s true. Or maybe they don’t identify the voices. Or they may have accepted that these voices are themselves and hence are accustomed to it. The ones who are uncomfortable, dislikes these voices as they are mostly negative chatter representing the inner fears. I did try meditation on headspace for a month. It calmed me down indeed but I don’t think I am ready to do the same for hours. Not because I have to work or do other things but for the mere reason that these thoughts alleviate the anxiety in me. We keep consuming from YouTube, Instagram or WhatsApp constantly to avoid few minutes of “boredom”. I see the older generation too. Not sure whether it’s a boon or bane. The phone calls they often get are filled with gossip and sob stories of loneliness after the death of someone they know or the fear of their own death or bad health could be worse for their anxieties. Read a tweet that the marathoners are in huge numbers because they want to get away from these thoughts and rely on physical exhaustion to drive them away.

How to make peace with this mental chatter. It’s a widely discussed topic in self help books. The “white space” which adds in the form of vacation break from office job, isolating in cubicle or home to get away from back to back work meetings, or rekindling with nature are the suggested remedies as per the gen Z who is on their path to master the emotional feelings. Unlike last generation, they have been provided with food and shelter leaving them to finally deal with remains of carryover feelings of their earlier generations. There is open talk about therapy, depression, mood swings, fears, anxiety etc. It’s a topic someone can talk about instead of running away from or hiding from others. Just like how the human living has got better over the ages I think we would get better at dealing with our emotions and feelings and thoughts too.

The uncertain element is the advancement in technology bringing AI into the picture. I don’t want to sound like Mark Manson who in his second book decided “there is no hope” and “life is nothing” with a depressing and open ended conclusion. Instead I would want to hope that human beings would get ahead in the race before AI overpowers us as in the film which we all fear of, and are able to tame this technological advances much like we have been doing over the centuries…

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