Where do we stay when our mind rambles?
Our digital identity forgets about borders. Permanent access to everywhere, not just places we like to see, any time we want. We can go further than a plane ticket or a travel agency could provide. For free – as long as we have paid a device and its high speed connection, if available. Via Street View and Maps updated in the rhythm of a heartbeat we can jump to a digitally rebuilt place that shows a lovely island cape site where we’ve kissed a holiday romance once.
Getting lost in multiple ways to explore what we want to explore or already have discovered: mental holiday and memory refreshment are a kind of daily drug that stimulates a fantasy fed by wanderlust. But whenever our on-screen astral body feels homesick, where can we go back? What kind of conscious condition do we leave behind when running away? Are we a jealous sloth watching a hummingbird or adventurers coming home to tell a story at the table?
Is the place where we started our web voyage a disappointment whenever we return? A desk covered with a cold cup of coffee, a staple gun and bills to pay? Ain’t it irony to work hard for having a place to sleep safely, yet at the same time we invest more and more of our real life for a digital getaway? How can we create a home, by killing the feeling or the will to stay? Let’s make a trip to cosiness again.
While I am writing these words, every third glance to my pin board shows a photo of myself standing at the shore of an Okinawan island. It’s one of the several beloved pictures shot in my lifetime. Clouds look sharp and wild beneath a blue sky, some seaweed covered rocks to break to horizon, the famous sand with star-shaped grains and my craving attitude body positioned at the thin but strong line where the ocean hits the sandbar. Right in the corner of the printing I have written down the lyrics of a famous Okinawan song:
To the sea, to the universe, to god, to life, carried away with the eternal evening wind.
This Picture is surrounded by the complete opposite of what it contains. Flyers with seminar dates, business cards, receipts of expensive products for guarantee, postcards with more interesting messages than motifs. The short summary of all the stuff on my desk: lemonade cans, a box of tissues, glue, scissors, a chocolate bar, aspirin, a cup of cold coffee, magic trick cards and a dirty spoon.
I ask myself what to do next. Another coffee, open the window, listening the first song that comes to my mind (in this case „This House“ – Tito and Tarantula, don’t know why), cleaning my glasses (necessary, but not essential). An intuitive decision is opening the music library. Because my hands are controlling what happens on screen. The screen controls what happens to my senses. I see words, but I don’t hear anything.
It’s quiet all around, and the last time I’ve heard a lovely voice was nearly one day and night ago. Sleeping through Sunday, ordering a fastfood meal all embracing and no question for additional wishes. A burger served by anonymous people. For a moment I felt sad and unattached to social life. I thought about having the meal in the car nearby the riverside and head to a church to confess all that I think I did wrong last week. How ridiculous it would be to confess I ignored a homeless because he looked happy having a beer on a bench. Definitely there would be a lot to tell. Because whenever we do something senseless instead of using an opportunity to do something good, we could also mention those moments.
All in all this weekend was mainly a spiritual waste. What do I remember? Mostly things I could tick off on the computer. Match reports for my club, training feedback for the kids, corrections on a speech about latitudes in psychiatric treatments (that needs to be corrected every second day), e-mails, checking order status of a surf wax coconut pineapple aroma tree… Hell what? Could I remember the weather? Why don’t I remember the weather? Maybe because there’s nothing special. No rain, no storm, no snow, nor a blizzard or roasted doves on the concrete.
I lost the connection to natural events while I listened to songs that would be funny to ask the DJ for. Lay all your love on me, Smack my bitch up, Banana Joe, etc. I was still outside. Not at home. Not even in a room. But my thoughts were orbiting the screen in my pocket. I didn’t even have to look at it, because I felt no vibration on my leg for 45 minutes.
Now, what could be the next step? Go home and collect information about the in-between? About what others did in the same time, while I ate a burger while walking in circles around a church that was shut down because of a festival day’s parade, looking forward to how nice coconut and pineapples smell together?
Now, … I am home. I’ve opened the music library, added ABBA, Prodigy and Olimpio to one weird playlist and I am curious if I could find my car passing an urban weather cam. Reality is gone and I am lost while sitting in my room. Reading the words I have written is a paradox to me as well as for the reader, you dear witness of my wasted time. Outside there was nothing to find. Instead, now I can use the Internet to follow the footsteps of information and browsing time lapse.
I’m away from the weather now. On screen I can now sort out the area in maps that are shown green for parks and meadows, blue for rivers and water in common, yellow for nothing – desert or buildings are the same. My room is dark and illuminated by a cold blue. Commercials for surveys and finance apps interrupt a documentary about dismissed safety plans in Thailand tourism after the tsunami years ago.
I’m in Thailand, having a hot pad coffee, no, I have been to Thailand, then I fell into an office where a guy tells me how great Microsoft Excel is and I silently tell him shut the f**k up by clicking on skip ad, back to Thailand. They show a rusty elevator for walking disabled people to be lifted into emergency rooms eight meters above sea level. The elevator is out of order, not even under maintenance. The government has started to pay securities to protect the film location of the movie The Beach from Tourists who destroy the riff, with slippers they have bought from citizens subsisting by tourism. Those who have no money to rent a quonset hut sleep in the caves and tsunami protection sites of the inner country. Some can’t be entered because of broken elevators. Some are locked by fences and no one knows the reason why.
Why do I know this? Because I clicked on a recommended video connected to my last escape from following my own daily footsteps. On my desk there is a second dirty spoon and the empty wrapping of a chocolate bar. For a short moment I’m scared if I am wearing anti- laceration slippers on my beloved Okinawa picture. I am now. Barefoot.
Nothing to confess.
I switch on the room lights. What a digital nightmare that was! I often feel like sinking in a self-made “Inception” when daily routine collides with media to abandon short term boredom. Fun facts crashing the dentist appointment note. I look around. There are some stones on the floor which I collected during a walk at riverside. There are some dirty unscrewed wheels of a skateboard which I dried and cleaned after a ride in unexpected rain. There are polaroid pictures of friends in a wooden bowl. I remember that lovely concert in a venue nearby the channels of Utrecht. And in the corner of the room there’s a cuddled hammock waiting for the spring. With every glance my room becomes a better place. Individual, warm, filled with history. A history without chronology.
When did I feel a spontaneous gust of wind? Do I remember? Do You remember, my dear witness of reality? Do you remember what you smell or hear while staring at the screen? And could You itemise what is in Your room or on Your desk right now if I asked You to close Your eyes immediately? Whenever You lose Yourself somewhere in the maps and codes, make sure You are conscious of a place You can return to. In Your selfmade Inception, it’s always a natural and pure event that blows the spinner into reality. Let’s feed our senses as much as possible to evolve a living mind that is able to distinguish the sensitive from the senseless.
Forget about the past, forget about the guilt, I’m going back to the House that Love built.
Time and space matters, roaming needs rooms.
Original artwork by Lotte Boots (@alottedrawing).