So I have been thinking a lot lately about the cyber world, and what it does and doesn't do very well. In my Zentangle classes I have observed and felt the quiet peace which takes place when students unplug themselves not only from their devices but from their day to day struggles.
Hands - By Kathy Marks
At times I ask myself how did I ever leave the house without my phone and venture into the world untethered, and yet survive for so many years? I relied on helpful strangers if I was lost or needed assistance, that's how, and I'm still here.
I have been noticing too, how people act in airports and other public spaces, heads down, ears plugged, no interaction with other people except to move their feet out of the way. How parents ignore their children while they chat away on their cell phones and little Johnny does cartwheels to get attention. It's easy to get sucked into this wired world and forget where the real world is. I do it myself. Perhaps this plugging in is a way to cloister away from the greater world, but what are we missing out there?
So some time before Christmas I got mad, real mad at it all. I was feeling over connected by electronics, reading other people's little cyber dramas and felt under connected to real people. I created an intention to spend more time meeting people, and less time "chatting" on my various devices. I didn't do any more than that, and then over time, I started to make new friends and have some great fun. As a result, we had a warm and loving Christmas with family and friends, a real gem of a holiday of which I am grateful.
Last week I lead a snow shoeing group up into the nearby state park. While no one was using their cell phones and were actually talking to one another, there was some chatter about not getting cell phone coverage where we were of which some were surpised and maybe annoyed. Well folks, this is the forest, where there are beautiful snow covered trees which call out to us to pay attention. Makes me wonder what will become of the real, will it be believed if it isn't in luminous shimmering colors displayed on a screen? Gosh, there are now cyber soccer tournaments, how is that helping with our health? My aging Mom gets a sore arm from too much I-pad use! I could go on and on.
Bee's Eye View by Loretta West
How does this all fit with Zentangle and art making? A number of folks make digital art out there and some do it very well. I can't sit at a computer for that long, so my hat is off to them for their perseverance. However, I always ask myself, is it real? Does it have heart? For me making art is like making bread, you have to have the body component for the heart to come through. Heart to hand is the expression which makes it good in my mind. I have to feel and smell the materials. In drawing Zentangles, this is part of the process to bring us into the now, to feel and express gratitude for the tools. When I paint I love to squish out fresh paint onto the palette, see it glisten in all it's gooey-ness. I haven't seen a device replicate that, but I am sure they are trying.
Now, on the other hand there are some things that have been good, through social media and meetup groups, I have gotten to know some folks in the actual flesh, made new friends and have received commissions, sold paintings, etc. But....I think one has to place limits on such tools, here's a great link to an piece about a new book called Alone Together, that gives ways to limit your cyber time in your family and what all this plugging in is doing to our real time social networking: http://billmoyers.com/segment/sherry-turkle-on-being-alone-together/ We may be techno savvy, but we are still part of a tribe.
So get out a pen, turn off the devices and feel how the pen glides on the paper, how does that make you feel? Aaaahhhhhh, that's better.