Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Inspirations in Facebook Messages

Yesterday, I wrote about the art of journals, in the context of Dorothy Wordsworth.  This morning, I'm thinking about our Facebook messages and our texting, and feeling sad about how much of that will be lost forever.  I've read volumes of letters that are written so artfully.  Of course, I realize that most letters are lost forever too.  I've always thought that e-mails might be kept and preserved.  I find my old e-mails easier to access than my old Facebook messages.

This morning, I read a Facebook message from a friend who is having us over on Sunday:  "We are super excited to see everyone on Sunday. Fair warning our house is a mess! We are redoing our bedroom. But, I know you guys don't care!!! And as KBA says ,"just clean the bathrooms!"

I wrote to qualify:  "Actually, only the toilets need to be clean. We won't look at the bathtubs, and a smidge of toothpaste in the sink makes it feel homey."

If I was a different kind of freelance writer, I'd have the beginnings of an article.  Would anyone buy it?  I don't know.  I have a vision of either an article or a book on scruffy hospitality, but I'm not sure I'll ever have time to write it.  Maybe if I write enough blog posts here and there, a more distinct vision will emerge.

This morning, I have not been focused.  I worked on blog posts and a short story, while listening to news updates about Korea and the week in review and buying swimsuits online at end of season sales.

I'm not even pretending to do one task at once.  I'm zipping here, zipping there.  It puts me in mind of a podcast I heard earlier, one which explores how we get to the state where we can do deep work:

"The type of deep work I talk about is almost nonexistent, as far as I can tell, in most knowledge work positions. Even when people think that they're single-tasking, they say, I've learned a lesson that I'm not supposed to multitask. I'm not supposed to be on the phone and do email while I write. I'm just working on one thing at a time. What they're still doing is every five or 10 minutes, a just-check. Let me just do a just-check to my inbox. Let me just do a just-check to my phone real quick and then back to my work. And it feels like single-tasking. It feels like you're predominantly working on one thing. But even those very brief checks, that switch your context even briefly, can have this massive negative impact on your cognitive performance. It's the switch itself that hurts, not how long you actually switch. So I actually think even very conscientious knowledge workers, who think they're pretty good at focusing on one thing at a time, are actually still working far from the sort of high-performance, deep work ideal."

I've done a lot of switching this morning--but I did get work written, e-mails sent, and swimsuits ordered.

Let me end with both a Facebook post that I wrote earlier in the morning and a haiku, which is only a haiku in the amount of syllables per line sense of that word:

"If you are looking for a soundtrack for these days of nuclear brinksmanship, I'm toggling between Sting's "History Will Teach Us Nothing" and "Russians." I sing, "There's no such thing as a winnable war, it's a lie we don't believe anymore" and then "History will teach us nothing." And then, just to change things up a bit, I burst into the chorus of "I'll Fly Away" or "My Lord, What a Morning" (stars falling from the sky). There you have it, my mood, neatly summed up."

At 3, the monks pray.
The president tweets his threats.
Nuclear missiles wait.

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