Dialogue: The Act of Engagement

I worry sometimes about the state of my basic instincts. Consistently finding myself coming home after a few days of mindlessly billowing through the same doors and similar interactions. My standby mode is being used at a frequency that I am becoming more aware of and uncomfortable with daily. It ranges from taking my breaks every day at the same time and place, sucking back my meals with little thought of the nourishment that comes from engaging. Instead, keeping my eye on the digitized clock that I often blame for my lack of participation in my own life. Realistically, the clock is not at fault, the clock is my paper tiger. I choose to see the passing of time seem so vehemently connected to how I must separate my day into smaller blocks of time, that I miss the network of possibilities that I am not activating. It’s like I’m playing Super Mario without jumping for any of the mushrooms. And this little anecdote has only just now shown me the age-old horoscope-Esque phrase that I think I should have tattooed onto the inside of my bicep in the script, as all the cool girls do. The idea that it is not the destination that matters, but rather the journey. I know, hearing that makes my fists tighten too, imagining some condescending enlightened person with app-like sunbursts exploding behind their likely curly, voluminous hair.

But remove the stigma, and the nugget within is engagement. Making the choice to engage in each interaction, to listen to what each person has to say and what you’re not saying. I so often think back on my past couple of days and realize I have said nothing. I have only been speaking in a language built by my environment, I know the words that work, the little jokes that will click, but its as if I’m playing fill in-the-blank. It’s always easy to know the things to say because we’ve heard them regurgitated so often that we already know the formula. But it’s taking the chance to actually listen, to participate and think critically that removes us from the evils of lazy language.

This is such an exciting time, one where it seems everyone is starting communes or building their bee keeps and chicken coups. There is a genuine interest in reigniting the values of starting from scratch and taking care in how we appoint the activities and objects we bring into our spaces. I know I often daydream about coming home from work to bake my own bread and make my own clothes. These things I would deeply love to bring into my life, but instead I keep them bunkered into the part of my brain used for romanticizing, where I can keep them safe and uneducated in the reality of my situation.

When I have these momentary lapses where I seem to be existing within myself, rather than examining the contrast in what I thought my early twenties would look like as opposed to what they are, the act of engaging is so completely blissful. It immediately relieves the tension created by my imagined comparisons and I give myself the space to feel satisfied and to build the confidence to pull out the yeast from my cupboard and see if it has expired so I can get kneading.

– Kirsten Geekie