I listened to a NY Times Opinion podcast interviewing a 19 year old teenager in Brooklyn who has become a leader in a resistance movement. What are these activists up to?
NY Times, “ Started last year by another Murrow High School student, Logan Lane, the club is named after Ned Ludd, the folkloric 18th-century English textile worker who supposedly smashed up a mechanized loom, inspiring others to take up his name and riot against industrialization.” It was surprising and delightful to hear about a group of modern teenagers deciding to ditch their phones for more time reading, chatting, playing games and living life, tech free. No really— only flip phones or no phones, these Brooklyn teens have committed to a hand held device-free life in the midst of the 21st century. And doing very well, thank you.
I thought about how we are in an attention economy, where every click, link and subscribe is determined to get and keep our attention. I am deeply embedded in this life, as I send out this post on my device. Could I do what these teens are doing? Well, no. But I can choose and curate my life, my attention, and create space for more deep connection to self, others, and the planet. Without my phone. I call this…
The Sacred No.
Where I take stock of where my attention and time and presence are spent, and remember that I have a limited supply. How do I want to spend my minutes, hours, days? Do I want to keep justifying one more minute (which never is) scrolling mindlessly? Do I want to listen to my stress brain that says, “oh, c’mon, I deserve five more minutes relaxing…”
What if this life is all I have and every minute is precious? I can spend my time in expansion and awareness, conscious of my presence; my sensation of feet to the ground, or, not.
We are always in flux; always changing, every five years our trillions of cells are replaced, but the patterns remain. No one can change those patterns but ourselves, we choose to constrict into fear/anxious/irritated brain in whatever way that shows up, or, we expand in love, peace and joy. The choice is ours.
I like the idea of A Sacred No, I was taught to ‘be nice’, to say yes, even when I didn’t feel it; be polite, fit in. The word ‘no’ was somehow a bad thing, selfish. So, I would not say a clear no, and then resent later, and that eventually explodes in one way or another. Not a pattern I need.
If I look at NO as a commitment to healthy heart boundaries, a sacred promise to peace, love and ease in every moment, then that word becomes sacred, holy, joyful. I curate my life, my sacred-art-in-progress, with determined honoring of self, my path, my life.
This starts with an honest appraisal of just what my day-to-day life looks like. What habits of time, energy, relationships, are really serving me, and which aren’t? How can I bravely choose how to spend each moment, even to the words I say to myself— how many times am I using the words— I AM…. Followed by words that I don’t want to embody in a permanent way—sick, tired, angry. Before I go to bed, can I use those precious five minutes before I nod off to affirm what I AM: Joyful, patient, loving to self and others, whatever I want to make real. I can choose, like those Brooklyn teens to lovingly rebel against my patterns, my cultural habits, my past. May we all love ourselves, give ourselves the gift of the Sacred No.
When They Sleep
by Rolf Jacobsen
All people are children when they sleep.
there’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.
If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
—God, teach me the language of sleep.