The things we stay alive for

 

 

People who show you to beautiful music and good novels 

The first cup of coffee in the morning

Smelling a new book 

An inspiring teacher 

 A game of chess and a bottle of whisky with an old friend

A newborn neoclassical-styled building in your era

 A real-life Rembrandt painting

That first glass of wine at the end of a tough working-day 

Waking up at 5am to see the sunrise 

A thought provoking quote 

 Learning how to play your favourite instrument

A poem that touches your soul 

A midnight-stroll in a narrow, cobbled street in an ancient town,            together with your love 

Laughing out loud about something you just read in a book 

Late-night conversations about everything and nothing 

A full hour of experiencing the “flow” in your creative work

 

Doesn’t all this sound wonderful? And guess what – Social Media is not included in any of these suggestions! 

Why reading has helped me understand this 

One of the biggest reasons why I read – is not because I want to intellectualise my mind. It’s not because I want to improve my eyesight and it’s not because my life is so boring that I feel the urge to live through somebody else’s.

It’s because by reading – I get reminded on the fact that everyone is more or less, the same. We are all aiming for the same thing. We are all struggling with the same problems. Getting recognition from the outer world is something that we all crave. We would all rather talk about our own problems than to indulge into others. We would rather do the thing that is convenient for us, than the thing that’s convenient for our neighbour. 

But we also thrive on beauty.

We become happy by discipline.  

And even happier by breaking that discipline just a little bit, every once in a while – so that we can do the things mentioned in the list above. 

Because after all – isn’t that the very essence of a beautiful life? The small things we usually take for granted? 

They are things that dont really require much out of you. In fact, some of them might even be included in your daily routine. You probably just never stopped to notice how great they actually are …? 

Wasn’t  Mr. Keating right, after all? 

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There is a quote by the American novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac which goes: 


the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”


Jack was right in so many ways. Don’t we all wish to spend our time with people who lifts us up, not down? People who crave interaction, music, poetry and the exchanging of exciting new ideas. 

But why are these people so hard to find today? 

Could it be that the youngsters today are just too fed up with all kinds of stimulation from Social Media on the internet? 

Has our generation failed to appreciate the beautiful, little things? 

The other day, I was reading in a book called; “Love Letters” – a cute little selection of romantic declarations exchanged between famous people and their lovers of the past, including Oscar Wilde, Scott Fitz Gerald, Napoléon Bonaparte and Mozart. 

When reading some of these letters, I came to the conclusion that these people were much more passionate about everything! 

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“I look down the tracks and see you coming – and out of every haze and mist your darling rumpled trousers are hurrying to me – Without you, dearest dearest I couldn’t see or hear or feel or think – or live – I love you so and I’m never in all our lives going to let us be apart another night.”

– Zelda Fitzgerald to Scott Fitzgerald 

 

You can buy this book here 

So how do we change this? How can we make people fall in love again – with the mere beauty of our everyday existence? 

 

What Social Media does to your brain 

According to Billi Gordon, a Ph.D doctor and psychologist – The Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) of the brain monitors social needs by releases dopamine when we achieve social success and inspiring neurochemical deficits when we don’t. Tragically, social media is not the VTA’s friend.

The physiological cues that the VTA uses to determine social status from negative social media experiences are the same as those occurring in our ancestor’s brains when the tribe banished them. In other words; Not getting enough likes on Facebook or Instagram can be compared to the feeling that one of your ancestors got when being left alone with wild animals in the desert. 

Crazy right? 

Not really. When you think about it, the correlation makes a lot of sense. I can see people stressing about Social Media all around me. I see my friends slowly loosing grip of reality and the simple beauties of life, because of being too much on their phone. 

It is corrupting our minds everyday, making us weaker, dumber and far less excited about life. And we know it. Still, we continue feedings our brain with it, as if the thing that we’re holding in our hands (the iPhone) is the one in control. Not us.

Why do we hold on to it so much? 

The answer is quite simple. It’s because letting go of something that you were so used to pick up and play with when feeling bored or sad – is of course, extremely difficult. 

How about, every time you feel the urge to pick it up – you do one of the things listed above, instead? Or just do something productive with that free time of yours, like drawing or reading.

See what it does to you. Recognise the changes in your mood. 

Because these are the things we stay alive for; poetry, beauty, creativity, romance, love. Not Social Media. Instagram and Facebook can be great. But they should not determine wether or not your life is great today. You should be the judge of that.

 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

 

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