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Too many INs

October 23, 2011

Tartine and bellinis at Blue Dahlia.

Have I told you about my theory of INs and OUTs?

I think I often have an excess of INs – inputs – in my life. Blogs, magazines, books, films, TV shows, music, commercials, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, texting, phone calls, emails, GoodReads, 8Tracks, podcasts, websites, links, images, articles, ideas.

And I feel the need to balance those INs with OUTs – outputs – like exercising, painting, writing, photographing, sewing, knitting, meditating, cooking, cleaning, jumping, yelling, doing.

I tend to take in way too much. This weekend, I have consumed so much information that I feel as though my head might explode. I watched several films at the film festival. I read the latest New Yorker, plus part of the new Diner Journal and a bit of Gastronomica. I started two new books and watched a full season of River Cottage. I browsed blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, and such. I listened to new music, and received emails and texts and phone calls. My head is full.

I haven’t had many OUTs lately. I keep saying I’m going to go for long meandering walks each morning, and I keep not doing it. I keep meaning to try to crochet a ripple blanket, or embroider something, or knit a new scarf. I buy groceries with the intent of cooking up fabulous things, but then end up having sandwiches. I just seem to keep everything IN.

INs aren’t necessarily a bad thing – I love reading, and would hate to ever have to limit the number of books I consume. The problem is that with each thing I read/see/hear/experience, I grasp onto new ideas, new things, new thoughts that I want to follow up on. I tend to be greedy with what I learn – I want to save those thoughts and images somewhere in my brain, so that I can remember them when needed. (Say I start to feel down about criticism, I’d like to remember Taylor Swift’s lovely attitude as described in the New Yorker article. Say I’m at the thrift store and see an oversized sweater, I’d like to remember that I can throw it over a button-up shirt with shorts, tights, and boots like the image I saw on Pinterest.) Unfortunately, my brain can only hold so much.

And so, my head is full. It’s time to slow down the INs. Granted, this weekend was a bit more IN-y than most, but still. It’s time to cut back blogs. Cut down Facebook. Forget Twitter. Return some library books. Take some walks. Write letters. Write poems. Sweep the floor. Make soup. It’s time for more OUTs.

Does anyone else have this problem of too many INs?

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11 Discussion to this post
  1. Wei-Wei says:

    This struck me especially hard today.

  2. Lexie says:

    i feel you in so many ways on this! i only recently this summer got onto Facebook, then i started doing Pinterest and then i got my first iPhone last week which has made the FB and Pinterest habit all the more easy. Its one new electronic thing after another to consume my time and i know deep down that its not good for me and that i should be doing other more productive things with my time, but i keep doing it. every once in awhile i do have to force myself to disconnect and just be. hope you make some time for yourself to just be.

    • Crystal says:

      It’s definitely addictive. I like the idea of disconnecting every now and then, or at least decreasing the number of connections to things, and increasing the number of connections to people. The internet makes that a fine line due to online friends and such.

  3. erin says:

    oh, kindred spirit! this deserves a lengthy answer (we need more porch time):

    aside from illustrating my life story onto a piece of fabric i wove myself from octopus tentacles and then sewing that fabric into a complex outfit meant to communicate my frustration with austin dining, media, and art, all the while playing duran duran’s “rio” (perfectly) on my bass guitar, i’ll never get out of me what i’ve been putting in. so i’m letting us both off the hook: all that stuff you take in makes you magic, even if it doesn’t come to any tangible thing.

    what of this anxiety to commoditize what we are taking in? for me, it’s “i had a thought! now how can i achieve greatness with it?” ugh. blarf.

    i’m trying to master the ledger in my head, too, but i can suggest something to you that i would like to suggest to myself (are you listening, self?):

    1. make a list of everything in your life – marriage, friendships, pets, career, hobby, secret dreams, artistic purpose, little obsessions, grand ideas, causes, spiritual missions, etc.

    2. put them in order according to priority, as best you can.
    tack this list up next to your computer (post-it on laptop next to mouse works if you’re mobile).

    3. before you go down a rabbit hole – be it pinterest, a book, magazine, other blogs, research, etc. – point to the items on your list that it will benefit. and just take note how you feel about that. keep doing this, and i bet you will learn to edit your inputting, and free up energy for outputting. also, maybe it will give you an idea of where to put all that stuff.

    xo,
    erin

    • Crystal says:

      Erin! Yes! To all these things! I have actually been working on defining my essential goals, and planned to pin them up on my inspiration board as a check-in point before launching any new thing. We’re so weirdly alike. Also, porch time for sure this week!

  4. Pearl says:

    Hm good model, thinking of it in those terms.

  5. Hanna says:

    I have thought about this in the exact same way as you do for some years now (and I thought I was unique… hehe). :) It’s good (no, actually it’s great) to read your thoughts on this – and it reminds me its’s probably time for me to increase my out:s as well.

  6. Michelle says:

    in a word– YES!
    yes i do have this issue, thanks for articulating it this way.
    really trying to get in touch again with my creative output energy, but feeling like doing so much caving inward sometimes, hard to switch that momentum around.

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