Rich’s topic in his continuing series on the Christian life was the Christian … Alone. In this case Rich defined “alone” as no other person being around, and no external stimuli or distraction (i.e. TV, computer, Facebook, etc.). In other words, time where we are alone with our thoughts, with nothing to distract us (and not the state of loneliness which is a separate discussion).
I tend to think I’m alone with my own thoughts probably a lot more than I actually am. The two areas in which I am freeist from distraction are my commute, and writing blog posts. The commute does require a surface level of awareness of my surroundings, and does offer distractions like the radio or other crazy drivers. And writing on a computer offers a whole host of obvious distractions, even when I’m in an area with no Wifi.
When I am thinking it is largely about one of a few things, either the book I am currently working on, the myriad of potential future books and stories, my latest media interest, or any recent argument or incident requiring review. Except in moments of acute crisis (i.e. Family medical problems, or financial stresses, etc.), my thoughts don’t tend to stray toward the lord, unless you count thinking about what I’m going to write to all of you in the Going Deeper blog.
I think it’s pretty obvious why this is the case. The mind tends to think about what it’s saturated with, and my life is saturated with writing, media, my wife and my family, and my job. God is there, and there are times when I can sense his supportive presence through tough times, but it’s not where my mind tends to go when it’s in neutral.
If I’m not on my commute or writing, then my default is to distract myself with a combination of a menial tasks (i.e. DVD backup burns and file manipulation) and media (i.e. my favorite TV series which at the moment is Torchwood). Insert reading comic books or playing video games for variety.
I’m an only child, and so I did spend a lot of time having to figure out what to do with myself. I had my friends around the block for sure, but that’s not the same as having live-in siblings, so there was time when I needed to read, to play games, and to otherwise occupy my time. And even though I like to think of myself as a reflective and thoughtful kind of guy, that time was not spent on reflection. It was spent playing with Legos.
I’m not worried that it’s dark inside my head. I could be entertained all day by what’s going on in there. It’s just I have a pretty vibrant fascination with the world around me (which I admittedly often define as news and pop culture).
I’m not sure if Rich’s suggestion of not reading in the bathroom will work for me (that’s where I get some of my best reading done), but I should find some way to quiet other stimulations around me, and just find some time to be alone. I’ve come to understand my introverted tendencies over the years, and my need for time away from people. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to think about time away from everything (and not in one of these trendy “unplugged” kind of ways).
When’s the last time you were alone with your thoughts?