So far our phone experiment is going really well, and I’ll tell you more about it soon. Phone or no phone, though, there’s still an internet connection on my laptop. Which means that when I am sitting at said laptop, I am still susceptible to the Rabbit Hole.
The moment when you don’t have the discipline to start the next thing you need to do, and you don’t harness the willpower to get up and walk away. The moment you aimlessly check your various email inboxes three times in succession. The moment you decide to start Googling people you used to know.
I’m not on Facebook at all, and I stopped using Twitter last year, so it’s Google for me. But some people have public Facebook pages, and Google leads you straight to them. This is where I found myself a few nights ago.
Thirty minutes later, I had wasted thirty minutes. Actually, I hadn’t just wasted them. I could have been sleeping, and instead I had landed on two people in a row whose stories I watched play out in personal and professional photos on my screen.
I used those thirty minutes to do something that made me feel like crap. I used them to stir up that part of me that compares, compares, compares. I used them to re-hash 100 of the things I’m not doing to live my best most amazing most purpose-filled life—and to ignore every single one of the things I am doing, to minimize the choices I am making, to forget that all of our lives have seasons.
I feel like this is progress, though.
Thirty minutes at this point in my life could have easily been more like two or three hours a few years ago. And the ripple effects didn’t last for weeks this time. Just for an hour or two.
Then, a day or so later, I sent that photo up there to my Letters Project participants. And I thought about that Rabbit Hole.
I love the story that photo tells. I grin every time I look at it. It shows a moment in time when my kiddo, fresh from the one bath she takes every 7 to 10 days, was happily working on a beautiful, sparkly, kid-made sign to hang in my Letters Project writing space while I got supper ready. It shows a person I love in a space I love—one that’s carved out just for me to write (by a window!) in our small home. It shows the beginning of something I’m so excited for.
Here are some parts of the story that photo doesn’t tell:
The 175 times I’ve tried to talk about the project with my kid and my husband, and our daughter has said loudly and with her stink-est stinkface, “Why can’t we talk about something we’re ALL interested in?”
The rest of the room, which includes a full laundry basket, a tangle of computer/printer/scanner cables, six or seven white putty patches over the blue paint, and a shelf of Christmas nutcrackers that have yet to be put away.
The surprise and happiness I felt when our daughter was excited about my idea that she make a sign because mostly she hasn’t been interested in my ideas lately because she’s still mad at me for the months her dad was sick and she got the short end of the patience stick with me.
My wondering (and yes, Googling) about what it means and whether it’s healthy that young girls are so interested in mermaids and drawing mermaids and pretending to be mermaids.
The fact that, countless hours into The Letters Project, I have spent a grant total of two early morning hours in that beautiful writing space, with the other hours being logged standing at the counter at Staples between an client meeting and my turn as class reading volunteer, sitting at the free wifi desk at Kinko’s where I went to urgently edit an article about an artist, sitting in the back row of a dress rehearsal of A Chorus Line using my laptop for light, and sitting in the driver’s seat of our car.
I love photography—as art, as communication. A picture speaks a thousand words; it tells a story. Online, that story is often a story of happiness and success.
This is my reminder to you—and to me—that there are thousands more words the picture isn’t telling you. Which is totally fine. Unless you’re in a Rabbit Hole.
I love you, my fellow Alice in Wonderland. You are not alone.