Last evening Linda and I attended a presentation by world-renowned American photographer Peter Turnley, who has visited and documented virtually all of the world’s trouble spots in the last half century. And he stated that guest teaching at the media college here on our scenic coast affords him the type of respite necessary to decompress from the stress of his profession. Of course, living in Paris probably does not hurt.
As famed local artist Jamie Wyeth also has observed, “There is a quality of life in Maine which is singular and unique. I think it’s absolutely a world unto itself.” It is this tranquility of place that particularly appeals to us during these turbulent times in which we live. And it also helps that we have chosen to “cut the cable cord” and limit our exposure to outside stressors like partisan news coverage.
Often it is how we treat the technology in our lives that determines how tranquil our homes and hearts are. For example, several of my family members leave their televisions on all day and the ambient noise contributes to the overall stress of visiting them. And whether or not we realize it or are willing to admit it, the contents of our media diets also influence our lives for better or worse. As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
Professor Cal Newport writes in his book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World: “The Amish, it turns out, do something that’s both shockingly radical and simple in our age of impulsive and complicated consumerism: they start with the things they value most, then work backward to ask whether a given new technology performs more harm than good with respect to these values.”
And I love a simple phrase attributed to travel writer Pico Iyer: “I’m lucky enough to have a lot of movement and novelty in my life, but I make sure that I also have a lot of stillness and changelessness, too. And I do worry about the way the world is spinning out of control…That’s why I’ve been a conscientious objector to a lot of the accelerating forces in the world.” So, how about you?