10 August 2013

Less is Less

Six weeks traveling in Europe out of a backpack, with no phone or internet, no email, no facebook, no twitter, no blogger, no news.  Connecting face to face with The Mate and the Offspring, with friends and family in Switzerland, with fellow travelers in the Dolomites and in Rome.  One ancient Kindle among the three of us.

The trip taught me something I've learned, and forgotten, before: I am happier with less.

Less stuff, an issue I've chronicled in this blog in the past.  But also less input.

Over the past few years, I've cancelled the catalogues, cut down on magazine subscriptions, unsubscribed from junk mail, eliminated telemarketing by getting rid of my land line.

But somehow I've signed on to a plethora of email subscriptions and Facebook groups resulting in a constant stream of messages about petitions to sign, political situations to be enraged about, foods to eat, exercises to avoid, and the reverse.  And then there's Twitter, Academia.edu, LinkedIn, and the news.  Always the news.

Cutting back is a project.  Going through six weeks of email and signing off all the subscription lists took hours.  Going through drawers and closets and cabinets full of stuff is an even bigger project, one I've been chipping away at for months.

But also: fewer commitments, fewer conferences, fewer projects tumbling simultaneously in the air.

The to-do list is long, there's a large pile of mail from the past six weeks, and preparation for the semester ahead is looming.  I don't know how long I can hold on to this thought.  But I'm going to try.