Journal entry from Tuesday, 23rd of July, 2019
It’s raining for the first time in what feels like months as I’m writing this. It announces itself with thunder, a howl of the wind, then the unmistakable sound of pitter patter across the rooftops and windows. I’m sitting in bed with the window half open, the warm glow of the lamp casting the room in a soft orange hue.
Today has been a weird day. My primary emotion for most of it was a kind of emotional claustrophobia and an almost painful boredom.
I was overwhelmed by stimulus – meetings and emails and texts and notifications and I myself was listening to either podcasts or music – I was simultaneously utterly overwhelmed yet so numb from it all that I spent hours feeling like tearing my hair out.
As I stepped out of the office in the evening, I stuffed my phone and earphones into my bag. I breathed in the slightly dusty summer air of this inconspicuous street in Burnaby, and walked towards the Skytrain station with nothing in hand.
Most of my life had been improved by podcasts or music or audiobooks. Yet on days like these, I felt an overwhelming relief as I shed my earphones and simply was just – there. I was a human being, not the first not the last but one of countless others in time, walking plainly down this road and taking in the surroundings.
On the Skytrain I kept my phone and earphones away and leaned against the window. I was utterly exhausted. Despite having done next to zero physical exercise in the day, my brain felt like it had been worn down by sandpaper.
I fell asleep almost the whole way to Burrard from Royal Oak, accompanied by the ever consistent screech of the Mark 1 Skytrain and its periodic lurching as it hurtled down the tracks.
Later on, as I walked through downtown on my way to my doctor’s appointment, I felt completely naked and vulnerable without my phone in my hands and my earphones in my ears; like I was utterly exposed to everyone. It dawned on me that I hadn’t done this for a very long time.
Yet the feeling was so unbelievably refreshing. Please embrace this, I told myself as my brain started to itch restlessly, needing some sort of entertainment. It was always not enough and too much at the same time.
There would always be brief moments in my life when I feel the most clearheaded of all – crossing Granville Bridge especially during sunrise and sunset, on the Skytrain staring out at the rolling mountains and houses lull by – all the times simply alive and nothing more than that. In that moment I briefly recaptured that fleeting emotion of – awe and reverence, for the lack of better words.
I hate to be Old Person Yells At Cloud because I don’t believe that technology is evil and millennials are shallow and dumb and social media is rotting our brains.
I just myself felt something so incredibly intrinsic that was just absent as I drowned myself in all of that day after day. Boredom led to seeking out that dopamine rush led to feeling bored any time I wasn’t constantly stimulated by something led to seeking an even greater dopamine rush until nothing meant anything to my exhausted brain anymore.
I was spent, I was done. The only thing that helped was putting everything away for just a few hours. Ironically, I was far more interested and far less bored when my phone of endless stimuli was temporarily gone.
It didn’t even matter if I was looking at my screen or listening to anything or not. Even just the act of having my phone in my hand or pocket had a distracting, eroding effect. It had to stay in my bag.
On the way home I leaned against the window of the 2 as it rolled down the roads near the sea, as it then turned and curved through Vancouver streets, trodding its way against the backdrop of the sunset. The pinks and the blues cast the beach in a dream-like haze; downtown from a distance just starting to blink with lights flickering on across the skyline.
I closed my eyes and felt everything fall away for a few moments, until all that was left for just that little bit was the rumbling of the engines and the chatter of the other passengers in the background.