“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal
Our nation is like a pack of overstimulated toddlers bingeing on Halloween candy.
I read Matt Labash occasionally. His pieces bat a respectable .375 at humor, and he does a good job channeling the average person’s exasperation at the age we live in.
His observations on the state of the union speech:
Joe Biden did just fine, proving less animatronic than usual. … he didn’t even accidentally order a waffle cone at the lectern mic, mistaking it for a Friendly’s drive-thru. Democrats applauded like trained chimps, ready to credit Biden for everything from making the blind see to the lame walk.
But thanks to the new breed of foaming-at-the-mouth congresstrolls, there seemed to be an endless barrage of heckling and eye-rolling and booing every few minutes. (“Liar!”……“It’s your fault!”….. “Give us Barabbas!”)
Good stuff, but mostly derivative…
Bored of all the excitement
Labash hit home later in his piece, Overstimulation Nation:
I craved boredom, finding all the excitement dull in a not-this-shitshow-again sort of way. For the last decade or so, we’ve been too over-excited, over-provoked, and overstimulated.
…one faux-news story after another – like the kind I religiously read on Mediaite (hypocrisy, thy name is Matt Labash) – which invariably involves someone “ripping” someone else, or documents stupid things stupid people say on TV, or which informs us that “Twitter is reacting” to something, meaning that yet another poor schmuck is at the bottom of a mean-girls pile-on.
I share this lament:
I miss what it feels like to not be overstimulated or provoked or moved to outrage, which we are constantly prompted to be. There is not much our society won’t ingest these days. We like at least two of everything, and supersized. But one thing we seem to have no appetite for is being bored even for a second. Letting our minds sit still, instead of wandering around in our pathology-driven media hellscape. Being overstimulated, mind you, is something many consider a gift of the modern era.
Freedom from the Fear of Fear
“freedom from fear” … is largely a function of not wallowing in it all the live-long day, which our trusty bad-news delivery systems are pretty good about making us do. They give us the illusion of constant movement, even if our only destination is backwards, prompting us to forever double down on fear, and agitation, and mutual suspicion, while steeping us in our own soul sickness.
The Pleasures of Just Doing Nothing
He ends with a long passage from Thomas Merton. Here are a few snippets capturing a key idea:
A multitude of badly performed actions and of experiences only half lived exhausts and depletes our being. By doing things badly we make ourselves less real. This growing unreality cannot help but make us unhappy and fill us with a sense of guilt.
Our malformed conscience can think of nothing better to tell us than to multiply the quantity of our acts, without perfecting their quality. And so we go from bad to worse, exhaust ourselves, empty our whole life of all content, and fall into despair.
There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing.