A year of presence.

Leaving the social media world for all of 2022 began as an experiment to give myself back time and it’s byproduct, attention. I wrote more about that idea on 1/1/22 in The need for silence.

Pre-virus, I lived in a sun-lit western aspect mid century studio apartment that had just enough space for me to create, bathe, sleep and dress. It was built in 1956 for delegates and officials for the Melbourne Olympic Games, and became my home for 18 magical months. I was exploring books, ideas, philosophies and the meditation/arts movement that gave me plenty of work. It swallowed me whole. Life was not only ripe with synchronicities, it was a tangible bliss.

That’s where I first learned what it meant to be present, and to savour it with memory. It was rocky at times but I committed all of it to a place that is unshakable, and referred to often inside of my mind. We can do that, command time.

Since then, before everything changed, I’ve been trying to appreciate what the 2020s might mean, how these years could be destined to teach us, to invite change. The fires burned ~70 million acres in the summer that led into COVID-19. By March 2020 the world had entered a lock down, not seen before. Nature took a deep inhale after the explosion of fumes, dolphins swam through the suddenly pristine Venetian canals. What might we learn about adaptivity? Global leaders say we have 10 years of viruses coming. A whole decade.

This leads to why the blog started and I decided to leave social media. The first post, Another day on planet Earth. was a call to presence. Hareesh and I had decided to move to the other side of the country, to a remote place known as the Fitzgerald Biosphere, by the seaside, a small town of 800 people, or ~1200 when the mine booms. Like now. The thought of regularly updating everyone who was 3,000+km away on my new life, and seeing (almost exclusively) east coast content, made me aware that I’d be attempting to be in two places at once.

Western Australia, and most places in it, are very far between, not just a stones throw as Brisbane had afforded me, from Sydney and Melbourne. When we arrived in Perth 13/12/21 we had a string of hot days, reaching 45 degrees. I had been toying with the idea of a year in solitude. I thought, how could I exist here but be digitally there, and would it impact the experience for me in a new place?

For all of that, and other reasons, I decided to sever the tie to the digital realm, and start again. Leaving Instagram was a natural expression of being alone, in solitude. I now know that content isn’t something that can only be produced on social media channels. Giving your attention to paper, canvas, landscapes, other people — everything around you.. these are the places life gifts us treasures, content. These are the moments that are real, alive.

Life in the slow lane, in Hopetoun, has been better off without the veneer of highlights and marketing from beyond the biosphere. Despite missing out on what others were doing, living away from the distractions served me well.

Instagram post 01/01/2023

I’m back on there for now, I’ve reconnected with friends and have seen images that genuinely bring me joy, but 2023 is also going to be at arms length from the noise of the world. I’ve learned to be comfortable with the sensation of remoteness. And during this time I feel it is truly a gift to stand at a distance to observe, learn and become something new with nature.

Barrens Beach, Fitzgerald River National Park

“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!”

Edith Wharton

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