Thursday, 12 December 2013

Loud, LOud, LOUd, LOUD, sssshh quiet.

When I cook, I sometimes have the TV or some music on but, generally, I prefer silence as I chop, slice and dice. I like hearing the sounds of whatever I am making come together - the hiss of the oil, the rolling bubbles of water and the clatter of pots and pans  - as I make my way around the kitchen. Usually, this is the only time I allow my self some quiet (outside of reading). It's not that I don't like quiet, I do, but I find it hard to just sit quietly and think. When I cook though, I am able to separate my brain from my actions. I know how to chop an onion, peel a carrot and crush some garlic. I do this automatically and my brain gets to think, quietly.

Hmmm this sounds as if I only think when I cook. That's not true, I think a lot - on the bus or train (when I'm not napping), snatched minutes between classes, whilst I am out for a walk or wandering around Home Plus by myself. However, I have noticed that over the years I have developed some bad habits: when I am not cooking or doing some other crafty thing, I generally don't set aside some time to meditate or just think. Instead, I use up my free time doing stupid stuff: playing on my smartphone, Imgur (seriously, whoever told me about this site, I want to take back my thanks), Facebook, TV, streaming TV or movies. None of these things are bad, of course, but like anything in excess they are not healthy for you me. 

With this in mind, over the last few months, I've been making some changes to get a little more quiet in my life. While the whole TV related thing is where it has always been, I have made strides in two areas: Facebook and my smartphone. A few months ago, I deleted FB from my phone for 4 weeks. It was tough and I didn't like it at all. I had become very reliant on the FB app so I decided to bring it back. When I did I changed my settings though. I changed them so that my phone no longer vibrates a notification or buzzes me a preview of a message. Instead, when I go into the app, I see my notifications. It's heavenly. Yes, I do sometimes miss a few messages here and there. Yes, I do sometimes check my phone obsessively every 10 minutes but these times are less and less. Instead, I only use my FB phone app on the bus and when I am at home - and not as obsessively as before!

With the freedom no longer have FB notifications gave me, I decided to extend this freedom to my other apps: Kakao especially buzzes a lot. I love this app as it keeps me very connected here in Korea.  Instagram, has also followed suit. It's amazing how much time I don't spend on my phone, now. I also turn my phone off when I enter work and turn it on again when I leave. It gives me so much more freedom to just get things done. I only have notifications for Gmail and Snapchat. Only 2 people Snapchat me so it's not too big of a deal to have it on my phone and Gmail is used for several things - from messages from my family, co-workers and projects I am involved in, so it's important that I keep those notifications!

However, despite these efforts, I still haven't found as much quiet time as I want to have in my life. Again, this is mostly my own fault. Somehow despite having between 5-6 hours every evening to be productive and get quiet time, it seems to just fly in. I don't know what is that I do, but the evening  is always over much faster than I expected. School can crawl by but the evenings fly by.  I let myself get distracted by stupid things - checking Facebook and staying on Facebook for hours, Imgur and Lamebook are total distractions (to prevent you from being distracted, I have kindly refrained from providing links) and I spend a lot of time just watching TV. It's actually good that I like to read, cook and do crafty things because if I didn't I'd totally waste my day.

For the rest of December (3.5 weeks), I am going to to make time for a little silence in each day. I don't know yet what I will do but I feel that these two things are manageable: I am going to use the quiet place everyday. It's only a few seconds (90secs). But they will be my few seconds to breathe. I am going to get outside by myself and go for a walk or a jog for a few minutes everyday. I already do this in my main school 3 days a week but I need to incorporate the other days into my life, too. 

So you might think I'm mad to waste so much of my time. You might think I'm mad to not take time to just breathe and be quiet. You might think I'm mad, considering it's snowing heavily, to want to go out everyday of the next few weeks. Well, I agree with you for one and two. I definitely need to manage my free time better. For three, well....even when it's snowing there is still value to be had in going outside and just breathing! So with a little help and prompting from myself, I think I can get a little quiet in my life! Wish me luck!

PS This post is inspired by my daily struggles to find some time to reflect and be quiet.
PPS This post is inspired by the Super Simple Song "Open, shut them" that I have used in a lot of my classes to demonstrate opposites. 

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