Look Up

by Gary Turk (shared here with permission)

Look Up.

I have 422 friends, yet I am lonely.
I speak to all of them everyday, yet none of them really know me.

The problem I have sits in the spaces between,
looking into their eyes, or at a name on a screen.

I took a step back, and opened my eyes,
I looked around, and then realised
that this media we call social, is anything but
when we open our computers, and it’s our doors we shut.

All this technology we have, it’s just an illusion,
of community, companionship, a sense of inclusion
yet when you step away from this device of delusion,
you awaken to see, a world of confusion.

A world where we’re slaves to the technology we mastered,
where our information gets sold by some rich greedy bastard.
A world of self-interest, self-image, self-promotion,
where we share all our best bits, but leave out the emotion.

We are at our most happy with an experience we share,
but is it the same if no one is there.
Be there for you friends, and they’ll be there too,
but no one will be, if a group message will do.

We edit and exaggerate, we crave adulation,
we pretend we don’t notice the social isolation.
We put our words into order, until our lives are glistening,
we don’t even know if anyone is listening.

Being alone isn’t the problem, let me just emphasize,
that if you read a book, paint a picture, or do some exercise,
you are being productive, and present, not reserved or recluse,
you’re being awake and attentive, and putting your time to good use.

So when you’re in public, and you start to feel alone,
put your hands behind your head, and step away from the phone.
You don’t need to stare at your menu, or at your contact list,
just talk to one another, and learn to co-exist.

I can’t stand to hear the silence, of a busy commuter train,
when no one wants to talk through the fear of looking insane.
We’re becoming unsocial, it no longer satisfies
to engage with one another, and look into someone’s eyes.

We’re surrounded by children, who since they were born,
watch us living like robots, and think it’s the norm.
It’s not very likely you will make world’s greatest dad,
if you cant entertain a child without a using an iPad.

When I was a child, I would never be home,
I’d be out with my friends, on our bikes we would roam.
We’d ware holes in our trainers, and graze up our knees;
we’d build our own clubhouse, high up in the trees.

Now the parks are so quiet, it gives me a chill
to see no children outside and the swings hanging still.
There’s no skipping or hopscotch, no church and no steeple,
we’re a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people.

So look up from your phone, shut down that display,
take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it can take,
to show you the difference that being there can make.

Be there in the moment, when she gives you the look,
that you remember forever, as when love overtook.
The time you first hold her hand, or first kiss her lips,
the time you first disagree, but still love her to bits.

The time you don’t need to tell hundreds, about what you’ve just done,
because you want to share the moment, with just this one.
The time you sell your computer, so you can buy a ring,
for the girl of your dreams, who is now the real thing.

The time you want to start a family, and the moment when,
you first hold your baby girl, and get to fall in love again.
The time she keeps you up at night, and all you want is rest,
and the time you wipe away the tears, as your baby flees the nest.

The time your little girl returns, with a boy for you to hold,
and the day he calls you granddad, and makes you feel real old
The time you take in all you’ve made, just by giving life attention,
and how your glad you didn’t waste it, by looking down at some invention.

The time you hold your wife’s hand, and sit down beside her bed
you tell her that you love her, and lay a kiss upon her head.
She then whispers to you quietly, as her heart gives a final beat,
that she’s lucky she got stopped, by that lost boy in the street.

But none of these times ever happened, you never had any of this,
When you’re too busy looking down, you don’t see the chances you miss.

So look up from your phone, shut down those displays,
we have a finite existence, a set number of days.
Why waste all our time getting caught in the net,
as when the end comes, nothing’s worse than regret.

I am guilty too, of being part of this machine,
this digital world, where we are heard but not seen.
Where we type and don’t talk, where we read as we chat,
where we spend hours together, without making eye contact.

Don’t give in to a life where you follow the hype,
give people your love, don’t give them your like.
Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined
Go out into the world, leave distractions behind.

Look up from your phone, shut down that display,
stop watching this video, live life the real way.

#poetry   #spokenword #lyrics   #lookup

Slow Down … Or Burnout

By Jack Forde at CopywritersRoundtable.com

(reprinted here with permission)

“In the realm of ideas,” the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “everything depends on enthusiasm.”

In fact, said Arthur Balfour — the former British Prime Minister, agreement-maker, and ex-philosopher who was, ironically, known for his dispassionate demeanor — “Enthusiasm is what moves the world.”

And had you thought to ask Churchill, during your time travels, he would have told you the same and more, in the phrase, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Without losing any of the irony that opening today’s post with other people’s quotes is, in itself, not all that creative, I can only add… “Easy for them to say.”

Sometimes, you just can’t help it.

There you are, half way up the mountain. Or worse, at the foot, bundled up in your metaphorical sleeping bag. And you figure… meh.

What to do?

TEN CURES FOR CREATIVE BURNOUT

First, let’s acknowledge a few things.

We are, I’ll be you’ve noticed, flooded with more opportunities than ever to be distracted…

Did you know, for instance, that according to the McKinsey Global Institute, the average working person spends a whopping 2.6 hours per day sorting through email? That’s 27 days per year!

Throw in nearly two hours of researching and reading “essential” information… plus a few more hours of combined chatting, work-free web surfing, smartphone checking, and pointless meeting having, and it’s a wonder anything in the world ever gets done.

I mention the distractions because I think they do more than just help us procrastinate — they can also become a crutch for a more serious condition, creative burnout.

Dry patches do happen.

But what to do when you find yourself unable to focus… apathetic toward results… hankering for “Miller Time” on a Monday morning… subsumed by the creep of cynicism… short tempered or moody or sleepless, all over work… or any of those other things Business Insider calls a symptom of burnout?

The French would say, take a vacation. And a long one. We “no-vacation-nation” Americans don’t do that nearly enough, frankly. And when we do, we rarely do it well.

Case in point: We took a week at the beach this summer. And of course, I took my laptop. Every day, I got up 5 am and worked until 1 pm. Even saying it now makes me feel oh-so-virtuous. I also had two one-hour meetings via Skype, plus various undisclosed, work-related email exchanges.

Yep, we hit the beach in the afternoons. And yep, I got in some kid time too. But I can’t help but think I’m not doing it right. To boot, the project I worked didn’t pan out nearly as well as hoped. So there’s that.

Next week, I’ve also got deadlines. I owe better stuff than I think I’m turning out to a few people, have more than one speech to write for two different copywriting “bootcamps” to come, and there are those standing weekly meetings… but we’re going away on a laptop-free trip to the south of France anyway. I’ll let you know if it pays off.

Meanwhile, what about the non-vacation solution to creative burnout? Turns out there are quite a few.

Like these, for instance…

1) Keep a journal: Write three pages every morning. Doesn’t matter what. And carry it with you during the day, just in case.

2) Add ‘change’ to your everyday routine: Move your desk across the room. Walk a different street. Read someone else’s magazines (but ask first).

3) Chill: This might seem a little counter-intuitive, given what we’ve said so far, but once in awhile the best way to get an idea really is to STOP trying. Think about it. Have you ever gotten a great idea while driving? Or taking a walk? While in the shower?  The subconscious mind is a powerful thing.

4) Paint, Draw, Play Music: Skills that force you to think creatively, but do things alien to your routine can jump-start a slumbering mind.

5) Think in squares and circles: Put one idea in the middle of a page. Write related ideas around it. Use lines and shapes to map out the connections.

6) Practice more problem solving: Just as musical people often learn languages faster, and people who do crossword puzzles live longer and stay sharper, just spending more time trying to be a problem-solver in any capacity — outside of work — can help you get back into the habit work-wise, too. The mind, it turns out, is a muscle.

7) Pick a hero: Start by imitating the creative greats who went before you. What did they do? Pretend you’re them and do it yourself. You might get mocked, but it’s an excellent way to pick up good habits.

8) Read: This is an easy one. Anything that’s in motion needs fuel and your brain is no exception. To get more out, you’ve got to pour more in. Does it matter what you read? Of course it does. But that resource might be different for different people, depending on what you’re trying to do. Not just blocks and niche-specific websites, but history and science, good fiction, good non-fiction — you never know what’s going to surprise you by being relevant.

9) And of course, there’s going back to what you’re working on like a beginner. Imagine what you would do if you’d never seen what you were about to sell before… and if you new nothing about how to sell it. Where would you begin? Revisit the original pile of product samples, articles and news clips, testimonials, studies, and more. And revisit a basic how-to book on copywriting too. You might be surprised how squinted shut your eyes have become, and how they might re-open.

10) Talk to somebody, anybody: Get in a conversation with the people you don’t usually talk to — or haven’t talked to awhile — inside your work circles… and outside them. They’ve often thought through the things that puzzle you or have the energy you can’t seem to summon on your own. And just by getting into a good conversation, some of that can easily transfer back to you.

As for me… well… I’m actually going to take off next week from the CR too, and I’ll talk to you when I get back… hopefully, renewed, recharged, and ready to go.

Progress

We strive to make more and more progress as a society, civilization, whatever.

We must move forward, not backward.  We have to upgrade, not remain stable.  We must go faster, not slower.

We must stop doing this.

Not just for ourselves, but for the world as a whole.  When is it good enough?  When do we have “enough” technological progress to say “Hey, let’s stop progressing and use this for awhile.”

There are obvious exceptions to this “slow and stop all progress” mindset.  We have lives to save, an environment we’ve destroyed (but won’t fully admit to doing so), and a future to think about.

We can’t stop every single form of progress in every area of our civilization.  It would be foolish to expect that.

But we can stop all harmful industry, fuels, energy, greed, “efficiency” (notice the quotes), and on … and on. We could start the process of actually stopping all of this now, and turn the page to a new era of our civilization.

It will require resisting old, damaging, expensive (in the big picture, not just $) forms of industry we’ve progressed past for a long time… but we can do it.

We just have to act like we’re capable of as a human civilization.  It might be uncomfortable for a little while, but afterwards, we will enter an era of advanced civilization.  We might just biologically evolve as humans too.