On living and other activities

I’m designing a bit of a reading workflow. I find the morning more conducive to want to ingest a dangerous amount of material: diving into my RSS app (lire) and just saving articles like crazy to my read later app (Omnivore). Then queuing, i.e. downloading, podcast episodes onto my podcast app (surprisingly Castro after years of dedicated love to PocketCasts).

Will I ever consume all of this media? Very unlikely. Ah but the sense of control! Of being on top of the world! Of being a know-all see-all read-all listen-all Superior Being not from this world!

Then I get an email from work which I don’t know how to resolve and my Empire shatters, bringing me right back down to pleb land where I put down my phone and go back to shoveling balefuls of email back and forth with my fellow digital interlocutors.

But still…

Perhaps the morning is better for compiling and evening for actually reading what you saved. Of course, this means that I will forever be a day behind the news. But I think this thinking (solipsism anyone?) highlights the flaw in systems thinking: nothing is absolute or airtight. Any good system has to have some wiggle room even from an architecting perspective.

In my all-encompassing-media-ingesting case, this would be something like casually browsing my RSS during the day and finding something interesting that I read then and there. My quest for the perfect system sometimes makes it hard for me to see that I’m also actually allowed to live a little. That not everything needs to be planned, stored away, highlighted. In short… productivized.

I am as much a victim as anyone of the pervasive culture of productivity but I think this is something beyond that. It has to do with the actual and staggering amount of information that’s already out there and which increases every single hour. Sure, there’s a lot of noise, but have you any doubt that you ignore an almost infinite number of gems every single day?

But, again, it’s not just the petabytes of information and it’s not just FOMO.

What this boils down to is mortality. The Internet has shown us the amount of life out there that so crushingly exceeds our own. Maybe History graduates know this too well but I’m sure they have a big blind spot as well: the omnipresence of an ongoing, vast, and practically infinite contemporariness.

It’s not so much that I want to read every tech article out there and implant into my skull some way of listening to a non-stop stream of podcasts.

I just don’t want to die and miss out on the rest of Humanity.

There are just so many nice things out there…

Reflecting on my ‘blogging struggles’ and the fear of actually writing things and putting them ‘out there’, I now think it’s not so much related to a fear of saying dumb things but fear of mortality once again. Of noticing that my voice is just one of so many that have roamed the Earth. And that mine too will be eventually silenced.

By writing publicly I run the risk not so much of being ridiculed, but of acknowledging and conforming to my own mortality. As long as writing is still a project in my mind and not something put on paper or on whatever blogging platform I eventually choose to use, as long as it’s in my head as a Project, it will be projected further into a Future where I incorrectly believe I will continue to exist.

Be it writing, reading, listening… there will come a day when I won’t be able to do any of these things. In the meantime, I have to remember that I’m also actually allowed to live a little.


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