Taking a Brain-cation …

I’ve been reading what has turned out to be a perfect storm of books that helped to redirect my thinking lately – thinking about myself and my place on this earth, my writing and what it means to me, the meaning of life, the universe and everything. You know … the big stuff.

Okay, maybe not that big, but definitely somewhere in between Stephen Hawking and Monty Python.

First up was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Right from the get-go, this novel had me reconsidering life and our interactions with other people. Then I began reading the brilliantly written Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. **And a little aside here – they missed a great opportunity with this title. It could have been named Finnegan’s Wave. I didn’t need to read much of this memoir to realize the author has lived his entire life enjoying and perfecting exactly what he’s passionate about. And, finally, this morning I began reading At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Karl Jaspers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others by Sarah Bakewell, and I have now become a born-again philosopher!

The point I’m getting at here is that each of these books has made me think – about life, the universe, etc. And since there’s an awful lot of extraneous noise and chatter going on out there on the internet, and I have a tendency to get sucked into the vortex that is Facebook (like Hotel California, you may check out but can never leave …), I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to extricate myself from social media for a while. I’ll still be checking, because that’s where most of my “news” comes from these days, but I have already deactivated one account and will consciously avoid getting involved too much in the others.

Instead, I’ll be writing to this blog, trying to catch up on posts that I’d drafted but never published. (All brilliant ideas, of course, but I had never given myself any time to develop and write out those ideas.) And I need to catch up on publishing to my other blogs all the queued promotions and reviews I’ve promised for other authors. Last count, I had over 3000 emails to catch up on, too. So … I’ve decided to take a Brain-cation.

Along with the books I’ll continue to read, and the writing I’d like to get back into again (too many stories to tell!!), I hope to concentrate my offline time in thinking about stuff. Whether anything concrete comes out of all this thinking isn’t really the point, but it might be kind of interesting to actually focus my brain waves for a change instead of having them flit all over the place like a multi-coloured butterfly: pretty, but not all that productive and with only a month-long lifespan.

Gotta go! It seems as though I have another think coming …

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23 responses

  1. Yes. Walking away brings clarity sometimes.
    I’m tired of so much of the online noise ( so have been scarce even in blog world recently) Besides it’s finally not horribly roasting and I love being outdoors in fall-ish weather…always the time of year I get re-energized.
    Been pondering and mulling and reading wider thoughts, too.
    We’ll see what develops.
    Enjoyed Sally’s and Kevin’s thoughts

  2. I loved Ove! What a phenomenal book. Enjoy your Brain-cation. I’ve been on a bit of a braincation too and haven’t been keeping up with blogs like I used to. Looking forward to your new book coming out.

    1. If you loved Ove then you will REALLY love the next one, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry! Enjoy your own Brain-cation, Tricia!

  3. Enjoy your Brain-cation (lovely word) and I hope you feel refreshed and even more creative.

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Susan Toy is giving herself a brain-cation away from the noisy clutter of social media. I get it. I have been spending a lot of time with a paint brush in my hand listening to music and I find when I sit down to write there is a definite burst of creativity having been away from things for a few hours. I am seriously thinking of giving up google + I will be sorry to see the back of the fake generals but since their version of the happiness engineers upgraded and recolourised, I need sunglasses to read. Your thoughts to Susan on the subject and I am sure she will be delighted to receive them..

    1. Thank you, Sally!What you say is very true and it’s amazing the difference stepping away makes, even in a short time. I confess I seldom (never, actually) use both Google+ or LinkedIn other than that my blog posts are immediately linked to them when published. It might be another way to delete more of the clutter online by also deactivating social media I never use.

      1. I have saved time certainly by automatically linking to them when posting but I find that I am getting irritated with FB as well as Google who have prettied themselves up but continue to unfriendly to users. Google particularly when tagging and I would have preferred it if they had done something about that rather than make it so gaudy. FB now is so overloaded that it is timing out posts after a few hours and when you comment you have to try twice to comment.. I do find FB and LinkedIn a good place to keep track of the main bloggers that I follow and their posts and I find I use mainly for that purpose. I have stopped all email notifications from all social media now including my blog and also notifications from other bloggers. I was just overwhelmed with 50+ emails every morning. xx

      2. I find that “new and improved!” rarely takes the users into account before changes are announced. (Goodreads also just did an “upgrade” on their site.) By the time the techies have gone to all the trouble and expense to “improve” our experience online, it’s too late for us to say, “Could you just go back to the way it was? I preferred it that way.”

        “New and Improved” never seems to be in the best interest of the people who are actually already using something.

      3. I am probably stereotyping but I picture them as bright young things who think that everybody is as excited by new techie upgrades as they are!

      4. I think you have that absolutely right! I recently watched a BBC-produced series titled The Century of the Self that talks about the rise of consumerism during the 20th century (with the advent of the “new” Public Relations departments, developed by psychoanalysts, that helped to increase sales for corporations) and obsolescence was consciously built into many items (especially cars) to encourage consumers to always be buying the newest model, whether they needed a new one or not. This isn’t news to me, of course, but what was scary was how contrived this has all been and how manipulated we all are as a society that we’ve been sucked into always wanting “new and improved” just because someone tells us it’s something we need and not because we actually need to make the change – when our “old and reliable” is still good enough.

        The scariest episode though was the last one and how politicians have managed to use these marketing techniques to get themselves elected …

      5. Does not work in our family.. my father-in-law at 93 has the same ironing board from the 40s and my husband can glue shoes back together that would have gone to the tip a long time ago.. I take comfort that I might be considered irreplaceable too….

      6. I think this style of marketing had more of an impact on North America where it was developed and used extensively.

  5. Enjoy your peace. Social media is one of those double-edged swords for me. I love it for the humor and the whimsy. But it’s infected me with an overwhelming case of compassion fatigue. Right now Facebook is a whirling soul-sucking vortex of social misery, whining, hostility, fear, political self-righteousness, and preaching. I no longer linger. It isn’t healthy for me to do so. I take care of my community page. I post a few jokes. Then I’m gone.

    1. I completely understand. I do love what you post, though! Thanks, Becky!

  6. Sounds like a wise tactic right now. I just watched a documentary about how people are so into their phones and social media that they’re missing the present, the here and now.

    By the way, I read Blakewell’s book on Montaigne and loved it. I’ll have to grab the existentialist one too.

    1. Thanks, Kevin! Bakewell is yet another good writer I’ve discovered lately.

  7. Good for you Sue! I have also discovered that too much time on social media negatively impacts my creativity. On the other hand, it’s been a marvelous tool for keeping in contact with friends and associates in Dominica. I guess the trick is finding a balance. I’ve been doing some of that myself – by taking a closer look at two late Dominican authors, Jean Rhys and Phyllis Shand Allfrey. I’ve been re-reading and analyzing some of their work in preparation for resuming my own literary activities – soon, I hope! Enjoy your Brain-cation and make the most of it! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Gwen! And best of luck with your own activities!

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