Life Lessons from Stargirl


He was a computer, she was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious?

These past few weeks have made it abundantly clear what technology is, and what it can be. Never in human history have we all been both so deeply connected and bored at the same time. I'm surprised the internet hasn't fried out yet.

Just think about it. Stuck at home (if you're lucky enough not to have an "essential job", like my dad), how many meatspace activities have you replaced with cyberspace ventures? For me, the gym has become workout apps & yoga videos; concerts are Spotify Premium; coffee dates are Zoom tea parties; and school is...well, school is still school, just lounging in your bed with a laptop instead of attempting to navigate hallways packed with 2000+ kids. And I'm pretty sure there's more that I'm forgetting about.

Everyone's in the same boat. And the boat is probably sinking. I mean, what boat could possibly hold billions of supremely bored humans? None. Not even Boaty McBoatface. It's that bad.

But Addie, you may be saying. What else am I supposed to do? I'm a 40-year-old fully grown human being, and I'm so desperate I've resorted to The TikTok as a coping mechanism!

Well, my friend, you're in luck, because I've got a foolproof proposal for you... take a break.

There's nothing wrong with making funny TikToks with your kids, or posting #QuarantineSelfies on "The 'Gram" (as my mom says). These are perfectly good time killers. But what if there isn't any time that needs killing in the first place?

If by the end of the day, you find yourself exhausted, depleted & overwhelmed, you may be thinking, "I did nothing today! Why am I so tired?!"

Here's why: you never actually did nothing-nothing. We start each day with a limited amount of cognitive energy, according to Psychology Today. Every decision of whether or not to like or retweet a post saps a little more of that cognitive energy. If you spend an hour or two on social media, it isn't a harmless, restful enterprise; it drains your brain as much or more than reading a complicated textbook, with less of the intellectual payoff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you you need to give up social media, especially right now. Social media is a vital tool that allows us to stay connected with the world even as we're isolated in our homes. However, I am telling you what you need is balance. I'm telling myself, too: I've sapped so much energy on Twitter these days I barely have any left for, well, anything else!

Balance those social media sessions with moments of rest; true rest. What does that mean?

Last night, I watched the movie Stargirl. The book is familiar to any reader growing up after 2000, and the movie was pretty faithful to it. I actually think it improved upon it! Not only that, but the movie starred one of my favorite people, Grace VanderWaal (who, btw, was born exactly a year and a day before me!) So what does this have to do with "true rest?" Well, in the movie, VanderWaal as Stargirl Caraway and Graham Verchere as Leo Borlock hike to the top of an Arizona canyon. She calls it her enchanted place. In the enchanted place, Stargirl has mastered the art of becoming nothing: you imagine a big, soft, pink eraser and erase yourself.

You erase yourself. You let your whole body dissolve away until there is no difference between you, the trees, the sky and a river. Then you're really resting. Then you're really doing nothing.

I'm not saying you have to go that far, that you have to absorb into the air or anything like that! But keep in mind what true rest is. It's not chilling in your bed on YouTube, although that definitely is fun.

True rest is sitting on your driveway in front of a chalk painted rainbow, feeling the palms of your hands press into the ground and the sun on your eyelids. There's a cup of green tea next to you, and your phone's in your pocket for once. For once, you're taking this moment to breathe, to watch the sky, instead of whipping out your phone to "kill time". Because suddenly, you realize all time, like life, is precious, and there's no need to kill even a second.

There's always something to see, breathe, think. There's always time, but never enough. Not even now.

Or maybe that's just me.

#covid19 #culture #joy #oddthoughts