Every morning I enjoy Train Mode. Each work day, I wait for a bus. Which I take to a train. Where I ride underground for about 35 minutes until I arrive at work. Then I rise zombie-like from beneath the ground and emerge to the light.
Each morning my mind races with all the things I could be, should be, might be doing. And then I don’t. I do a single thing.
Catch yourself about to multitask today. Stop, breath, and go back to what your were originally doing.— Garrick van Buren (@garrickvanburen) May 13, 2014
When I step into a train, my phone becomes an island. I turn off all wireless communications. My phone is adrift in a sea of silence. No email. No social. No interaction.
I open Kindle. I read. I enjoy the blissful silence and focus of words on a page.
This past week I’ve read with my phone in one hand and a paper notebook in the other. I’ve written thoughts and pondered questions. I’ve interacted with the book in a real way.
Not passively reading, but reading to remember. Reading to know. I’ve ignored the rest of the world and for that short train ride, it’s just me, the words, and my thoughts. And it gets to happen again at day’s end. Where I wait for a train. To a bus. To home. All without the phone making a peep. Unless I put on music to drown out the song of public transit.
Why does a man stand in a bathroom stall and read the newspaper?
He seeks solace.
Offices are mine fields of distractions. The cubicle walls allow every sound to permeate their beige walls. Every speakerphone call. Every one-sided conversation. Every ring. Every cough. Every rambling story. There is no escape from the noise.
There is no safety from the walk-ups. To be at your desk means you’re available at any minute for anyone to interrupt you for any reason. Headphones offer some relief. But the only true escape is to escape.
Pick up your newspaper. Take it to a bathroom stall. Choose the handicapped stall for more spacious sanctuary. Read the paper. Enjoy the silence. No one knows you’re there. No one is trying to call you. No emails are piling up in front of you. No one is going to stop by and talk to you. You’ve found solace in a bathroom stall.
Stand there. Read your newspaper, sir. The rest of the world can wait.
There is something beautiful about about:blank. Go ahead. Type it into your browser window. http://about:blank. What do you see there?
That’s right. Absolutely nothing. It’s a blank page. It’s a white canvas. There is nothing there at all. There are no promises there. There is nothing to live up to. There is nothing. Blank.
In a world that wants to fill every possible space with ads and information, it’s nice to have some solace. It’s nice to have a little digital quiet space.
I like about:blank because it is that quiet space. When I type http://about:blank into my browser, I know what will be returned is nothing. In all it’s peace.
I often use about:blank as my start page. I don’t need to see anything when I open a new window. I don’t need to be overrun with information. I don’t need to have my thought train derailed by a social network or a story waiting for me, or a tempting ad from a start page.
I need a little quiet time. I need a little quiet space. I need some time to think. To consider my next move. My next action is what’s important.
Where am I am going?
What am I doing?
Why did I open this window to begin with?
Sometimes the answer is simply to close the window and walk away.
Have you tried turning it off and on? It may fix some problems, but customer service and tech support is more than learning how computers work. Learning how people work is just as important.
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