Taking It In

by Christy Gualtieri

I’ve always been captivated by the the things I “took in.”  When I was a kid, I’d watch a movie and get so caught up in the plot and the scenery, I’d spend a not insignificant amount of time afterward acting like my favorite characters. I devoured books to the point that if I got in trouble at home, those were the first things taken away, not dessert or television time. And when I did get older, and TV took the place of going to the movies (because when you have kids, time to go to the movies significantly decreases), there would be some episodes of shows I’d watch where I couldn’t do much but sit with my mouth wide open, trying to process what I’d just seen. (I mostly did this after every episode of Breaking Bad.)

When I was a kid, I was pretty impressionable. I’m thankful that I grew up around family and friends who were good and decent people and gave me a good example to follow. Most adults grow out of their impressionable-ness, but I don’t know that I have. I think I still have the type of personality where it would be relatively easy for me to change my own feelings and actions after being immersed in some type of popular culture.

And I don’t think I’m alone, either. I think most of us, as cemented as we are in our own thoughts and opinions about things, are still that way. We take in the world around us, and it’s hard not to become immersed in it. Think of how much we’re absolutely bombarded with each and every day. Think of how much we take in when we look at our phones almost as soon as we wake up. If the first thing you see in the morning is the front page of a news site that’s screaming in capital letters about how the whole world’s going downhill faster than anyone could reasonably predict, is it any wonder you start the day in a bad mood? And as the day continues, you’re checking out other people’s lives and what they’re up to, do you feel inexplicably sad, like your life doesn’t measure up somehow? And after getting through your day, what’s the last thing you see on your screen? Will it help you sleep well, or will it put you in an uneasy place that might lead to anxiety-filled dreams?

I don’t say all of these things to judge you if you use your phone all the time. I use my phone way more often than I’d like! But I do say this to remind myself and you, too, that I think these things do matter, even if it’s on a subconscious level. You might not think your actions and your thoughts are so dependent on what you’re taking in, but there is a real connection there. And that’s not to say it’s a bad thing! You just might want to focus on the positive in all of it, instead of just negative.

And do I mean you should throw away your phone, unplug your TV, and bury your head in the sand? No. But I do mean to say that your anxiety and your worry might decrease if you step away from the frenetic static of Internet World and you focus on the world that is directly in front of you, because it’s the world that you live in. It’s so much fun to imagine yourself, as I did when I was a kid, in The Matrix; or in the Civil-War-torn era that the March sisters lived in. But the reality is that you are here, now.  You live where you do for a reason, and you have such power to influence those around you, for the good.

So I’m challenging both you and myself a little bit this week! How can we move (even if it’s a slow, sloth-like pace) away from what we see on a screen, and focus our vision on what’s around us, now, in the present moment? And if there’s nothing of interest there, can we turn again, inward, to ourselves? Our own thoughts, our own feelings? I can assure you that there is a whole world of adventure to be found.

Until next time, be well!

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