May 17, 2014

Confessions of a Screen Addict. ~ Maggie Marie Genthner


There is power in vulnerability. This idea seems to be catching like wild-fire.

My vulnerability is my admittance to the world that I am not perfect. (Nope, not in the slightest.) At first , that is what set me up for attack. Now, I experience it as the guiding force of my life. Most of the time I write from a wound, from the place of change I wish to see both in myself and in the world, i.e: the collective gaping hole of darkness.

Hey, the gloom and doom isn’t all bad—it seems to be where I source most of my creative vision. Let’s face it, the world needs more creatives and creative solutions. (Hallelujah!)

I firmly believe in evolution; that we are all here on this earth at this moment to become more humane in our human-ness. We are not kind until we are taught through direct life experience that kindness is the only way to be.

It has been my experience that kindness pretty much solves most of the world’s suffering. It has at least made a huge dent in my own suffering. Just like any truly fantastic thing, one enthusiastically wants to pass it along once it has been digested, felt and known.

(Kindness: pass it on.)

There is this sort of Greco-Roman expectation that I experience—(I notice it now even more while I write from the pool in my bikini)—it is this pressure for us all to posture ourselves in a way so that we appear to have it all together.

I am going to let the world in on a little secret: ain’t nobody got it all together. That is the beautiful mystery of this life.

There seems to be this collective inner critic who is making up the rules as they go along. Telling us what is cool, what is not and how we are suppose to look and feel while we live our lives. Some people point and say, “It’s the man. It is the system. It’s oppression.”

To be honest I don’t care what the cage is. All I care about is that the cage dissolves.

Part of my deepening practice over the past three years has been very specific. I have left this world of “supposed to” in favor of my wildness and my inner core.

I learned that my feminine nature longs for the unanswerable: how do I allow my light to be unveiled, seen, adored and embraced? How do I let the question open me to a more full, richer experience of life? In order to do this I have to be honest with myself and notice what’s coming up. Somewhere in this process I naturally just decide to let go of judgement and not be afraid of social and internal discomfort. This is some good ol’ self knowing.

Every new opportunity I have for a deeper intimacy with myself and my beloved is both blissful and terrifying.

I know I am not alone in this but there is a slightly awkward, but beautiful, feeling that I experience right before I share my heart. I almost don’t know what to do. I feel kind of silly prior to the opening.

Sometimes I throw my hands up in there and say “F*ck it, here you go world”. Sometimes it is felt as an after-thought of, “Oh sh*t, did I really put that out there? Did I just bare a piece of my soul?”

A rush comes through me. I breathe and think and feel, “Okay, it is not mine anymore. Hopefully it can help someone.” There is so much peace in knowing that our creations are not for ourselves but for the service of the world. Why would I want to hold on to anything? (and yet I know how much it hurts when someone takes something I have created and plasters their ego on to it.)

That could be the unsaid etiquette of my work: Please, enjoy it, use it, let it sing to your soul but do not bottle it up and sell it, lest you destroy its true gifts.

Offering the gifts of my heart is the bodhisattvic path I walk. It is a five-fold process. If I leave any one of these out I am just full of crap.Here is the perceived order:

1) dig
2 ) find yourself
3) breathe
4) spontaneous mindful creation
5) release into the world, and repeat.

Sometimes I do this in conversation, in writing, dancing, cooking, hula hooping, playing with the children in my life or through the world wide web.

The web is great. It connects us to people all over the world. We are interacting with the web as if it is a living changing breathing thing. It is—it provides an opportunity for spontaneous invocation and revelations through some of my favorite anchors in existence: words. Words are amazing. The right words will change your life.

With every great thing, independent of it, there is a real need for a flowering of awareness. Learning, knowledge, being, growing, becoming more humane is all a fluid process. There are plenty of traps on the path. In my experience it isn’t easy but it creates ease in the long run.

The confession I have is not over.

Last night while lying in bed with my lover-man, I looked around and realized that something was different. I did not have my phone in the bedroom. I was being brave in this moment. Allowing myself to feel a little bit of discomfort from not being plugged in.

I felt odd, a moment of panic, and then a realization that all I needed was right here with me.

I struggled for a moment feeling my heart as my guide, (not my head), open more and more to this beautiful man and the harmony we share. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Nothing to fight.

I experienced an incredible peace from not being contactable (le sigh). Then utter gratitude for the man saturating my cells with love.

I declared my realization: “I have been a screen addict.” To this, my man replied by nodding his head. He had already known.

So, like any kind of addiction there is a formula. I have been fortunate enough to never have had a serious drug addiction. (I suppose I have been addicted to love to some extent but who hasn’t gone through that phase?)

However, I have watched loved ones struggle with substance abuse. I have been heartbroken that their addiction both keeps them from offering their gifts and recognizing their brilliance.

I believe that screen addiction keeps us from our creative flow because we need to feel in order to create. We need to not be distracted from the feelings that are on the edge of transformation. For what its worth, this is what I can offer:

 Addiction Breakthrough for Immediate Screen Awareness and Recovery.

1) Admit that you have a problem and feel uncomfortable with that for however long it takes.
2) Develop healthy habits to replace the toxic ones (instead of obsessively checking my e-mail this morning I made a green juice and cuddled).
3) Forgive yourself when you fail (I then checked my e-mail after I made the green juice).
4) Repeat.

 The difference for me with my screen use is simple. Am I in the creative-productive-inspiring flow, or am I being drained by the sycophantic overwhelm of newsletters I never signed up for?

What message am I waiting for? Is that message really on the Internet?

Am I genuinely connecting with friends who I can’t stay in touch with without social media, or am I avoiding my life by getting caught up in Internet drama? Can I create a dialogue about matters that are important to me, or am I avoiding having the conversations I need to have in person? What are the issues the Internet-web-world needs to know about and what needs to stay private?

My philosophical view is that there is no one way to do anything in this life and that rules are futile. We all mess up. Welcome to life. Lately there have been a flurry of emotionally charged status updates and texts from friends I love dearly. I have to stop myself with the judgement.

I want to say, “Why is this on the Internet right now? Why are you declaring this, my friend? We could have talked before you posted this.” Then, I stop and check myself: “Have I been doing this?”

In my experience we are more resourceful in the space of a witness. However, the Internet has become its own witness that may or may not be healthy (deep breath).

I forgive you for not understanding social media etiquette.

In my own messy way I know I have responded to messages that triggered me.

I know I have fallen down and had to pick myself up. I forgive myself for the times I have posted impulsively. I know it has been a very organic and unfolding process—with any new thing we all have to learn by trial and error.

We all have an opportunity to grow. I have never felt empowered by being rigid about giving myself screen-time or no screen time, filtering posts, and censoring my process. However, boundaries are generally good.

Mindful boundaries around technology seem to allow technology to serve us better. We have enough distracting us from why we are here: let’s use the Internet as the tool it is capable of being. A tool that connects us, gives us an opportunity to cultivate our art, and share what we care about.

For me, my “un-plug revolution” will be quiet.

It will be me knowing when it is time to stop, when to notice what’s around me (keep it local), to unplug for longer periods, to allow myself the discomfort of not always knowing what is happening, to give my work structure by choosing when to turn off the noise of the buzz, when to write in a notepad, when to stop waiting for certain e-mails, and when to post something that is going to help uplift others.

Most importantly I remember what really feeds me to be both in conversation and in silence with the people around me, to allow my imperfect humanness to touch their imperfect humanness and to love each other more because of it.

This is what it means to be a recovering screen addict.



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Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: epicfailer, Flickr Creative Commons

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Maggie Marie Genthner