So, here it is, the end of November, the time period I anticipated emerging from my month long quest of frantic writing and creative merry making. Were my predictions of failure correct? Absolutely – and I managed to do so miserably.
Now before you go thinking this is a bad thing, that I essentially wasted National Novel Writing Month and achieved no sense of accomplishment or personal betterment, I can assure you that such a thought couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead what I gained was an improved sense of observation and mental acuity. A socially manufactured agent of change that I doubt I would have bought into had I instead chosen to stick with an immersion of words flashing on my computer screen.
After four days of frantic writing, I literally ran out of ideas. I said everything I wanted to say. Explained each made up situation to the best of my ability. I didn’t just have writer’s block, I had writer’s implosion. My creative juices literally ran dry. With the revelation that I clearly lacked the imaginative drive to be a fiction writer, what followed was the solitary (and dreaded) blinking of the cursor on a blank page. Mildly frustrated, I set out to train myself to really look at the world around me, to hone my observations skills and really see things for what they were – with the added hope that such an exercise would help me become a more descriptive writer. From the fourth of November until now, it was my creepy watching and stalking skills that carried me through the remainder of the month. Now and then I would document my observations, but mostly I would just sit and categorically monitor what was happening around me; from the behaviour of the neighbourhood squirrels to the zombie like movements of students on cell phones, I visually gathered information that has since taken up cozy residence in the deep recess of my brain.
So what have I gained from such an activity? To be honest, a very strong sense of self coupled with considerable worry for the future of the human race. It bothers me immeasurably that the basics, the foundation of human decency, has seemed to have floundered to such depths that I seriously question if we’ll ever be able to fully recover. I watched individuals completely ignore others in order to stare at the tiny glowing screen in their hand. I observed people litter with purpose and intent. Watched young men side step older ladies in order get into line first. Genuine rudeness seemed to reign over all else for no conceivable (or acceptable) reason. The whole experience was actually quite depressing.
While my observations were not all bad, they were certainly far from enjoyable. When I first created this blog nearly a year ago, my intention was to provide examples of ways in which to make life simple again. Activities and ideas to divert people to the world of simple meets contentment, rather than remain plagued by a worldview that seems only able to function on hyper drive. In many ways, I now feel like I know things others do not. That I’ve been sworn into a secret society of those who “get it”. I will admit, however, that I have begun to grow seeds of paranoia; calculated awareness on how much big brother really is watching. After my credit card was fraudulently used for the third time, I started paying closer attention to my digital footprint. Every scan, every code entry, all that electronically tracked my movements – tracks ALL our movements – seemed endless throughout the course of a typical day. (Count how many times you “check in” electronically in a day. I think you may be surprised). I for one am worried about the oppressive society that has been created as a result; and the future it may turn into.
I challenge you to put on your best eye spy sunglasses, find a cozy mall bench, and hunker down to watch the human species at work. You may or may not be surprised at what you observe, but I promise you will experience varying degrees of caring and concern. Some of what you see will warm your heart strings, more still will leave you dumbfounded and slightly afraid. No question you will develop a heightened sense of awareness and empowerment that you may not have had the chance to tap into previously. And I guarantee that you’ll never look at this world the same way again.