The Racket #31 : FRENZY
Poster by Ryan Tovani.
JUNE 27 - ADOBE BOOKS - 7PM
I exist in a frenzied state. There's no two ways about it - my mind churns no matter if it is running a marathon or if it is sitting on the sideline. Some might call it anxiety or stress or, I call it a natural state of being, a level of existence where the absence of a full mental platter is only tenable for the briefest of moments. Relaxation is a hard-fought battle but when I do manage to cross that line it becomes a staging ground to overstock the larders when the relative peace inevitably ceases.
And even as a human who considers themselves well-rehearsed in the fervent demands of overthinking, fine-tuned to exist, even thrive, amidst the clutter. Even then, keeping my shit together in the heart-attack inducing wave of, well, everything that crashes down on my shoulders these days is a challenge of the every-single-moment variety.
All of us, except for those who chosen the drastic, society-shunned phone-free life, now exist between the lines of pings and pangs and vibrations that constantly echo upwards from the mini-universe stuffed inside our pant pockets. We are bound with chains of wi-fi to a suffocating reality where everything we do needs to be broadcasted, and every thing we might needs a reminder one week, one day, one hour, one minute in advance. And we tell ourselves this is efficiency, we tell ourselves we our lightening our loads, when the weight of managing our personal management continues to drag down our every step.
I saw a film last night and forgot to turn off the vibration feature of my cell phone (a scorched earth tactic I've resorted to in an effort to regain the tenuous thread of my own willpower). In the midst of a glitter-blasted reenactment of another Elton John overdose, my phone rang not once, not twice, but four times in a row, followed by a series of vibrations announcing a new notification, a text message perhaps or the hottest news from my beloved National Basketball Association.
My first thought, admittedly, was panic. Four calls, additional text messages - this could only announce a true tragedy: a parent's fatal illness, the death of beloved animal, a natural disaster in a far off place. I fought a sudden urge to depart immediately for the hallway to ensure that all was right in the world (mine or otherwise), Elton John's daddy issues be damned. I ground my teeth and dug my fingers into the tops of my legs attempting to push my overwrought imagination to the side for just another forty-five minutes. My breathing quickened, my focus on dear Elton dimmed considerably as I played out which relative was calling to break what bad news, which small country the United States had deemed bomb-worthy now. I sat tensed, waiting for the next doom-laden buzz from my pocket, eager for the film to end so the bad news could break upon my shores.
When the lights came on I had received four robo-calls with no messages, two tweets from an author I've never read, a trickle of news about the gastronomical issues caused by the chili my sister-in-law had made and the digital announcement of the Seattle Mariner's eight-four loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The panic ceased. I could barely recall what I was worried about for the last hour and change.
This, for me, is a daily occurrence. Blame it on an overactive imagination or a brain geared towards dramatic thought but the mental space afforded to just pushing back the swell of digital existence is taxing, let alone time-consuming. In our current state of phone-dependence, cutting one's self off cold turkey is both looked down upon ("how will I get ahold of you?") and near impossible unless your goal is to start a small homestead in rural Wyoming so far off the grid your only neighbors are the rocks and the dust and the stars. Where we are now is no longer sustainable; our society is more and more every minute sinking deeper into a fabricated reality ruled over by notification and reminder. We allow a structure to be built by a device we not only purchase but crave and then we rationalize that we are all the better off for it.
Before it's too late, before we are merely eyes staring above the deluge, reach out for a lifeline (or hell, make your own) and pull yourself up on to the shore. Sit in the silence of your own choosing, stare out across everything that still exists just the same as it did before and realize that this was not how it always was and this is not how it always is going to be.
Appreciate it all before you dive back in.