Drawing and Change…

The Albaicín, Granada

Over a month ago I proposed 4 changes I wanted to make; now that a fair amount of time has passed, I wish to hold myself to account!

Change 1 is to draw more again. It’s going well! The picture above was drawn from imagination after spending two weekends in a row in Granada (Spain), and particularly in the Albaicín neighbourhood, a labyrinth of white-washed narrow streets on a hill opposite the Alhambra. At the top is the Plaza San Nicholas, where people sit on a low wall and gaze across at the Alhambra Palace and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains beyond.

The drawing below is what I call a Ben-Van-Hockney, as a hat-tip to obvious influences 🙂 I woke up one morning thinking of this landscape and went straight to get me kids felt-tip pens. Drawing with the kids has been enormous fun, and helped me carry on. Conclusion, this change is going very well and I’m loving it.

Landscape from a dream.

Change 2 is to read more. And to read at whim and for pure pleasure. It’s going very well! I’ve recently loved the Hobbit and am now working through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, combined with a few of my old favourite Zen books and the wonderful Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (more on that below). Watching zero streaming TV has been key to being able to read more, and a 100% winning trade-off.

Change 3 is effortlessness – mastering the art of letting go, letting go of stresses, of worries and anxieties, of frustrations and expectations. This is a lot harder than the other three changes but is going well. I’m walking a lot in nature, listening to a lot of audios by Thich Nhat Hanh, and practicing a couple of his meditations that I have always liked, particularly walking and breathing. All this is making a huge difference. Also important is paying close attention to what stresses me and not doing those things!

Change 4 is less tech. stress! Less online and phone activities that just don’t make me feel good or add anything to my life. I’ve found a wonderful ally in Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism. Whereas I originally thought this change would just involve opening less browser tabs, I have now gone for the full 30 day digital declutter recommended in the book.

I’ve cut out Spotify, all personal use of social networks, Audible, podcasts (except the above-mentioned Thich Nhat Hahn audios), net browsing (unless for work), and YouTube. Plus, I’ve removed all social apps, web browsers and everything else I can think of from my phone – it’s now simply a device for making calls, texting via Whatsapp, and if really necessary, maps. Finally, I’ve consolidated checking email and Whatsapp to just twice a day.

And my goodness does it all feel great! The amount of other creative things you can get done! The amount of personal-thinking space you have without constant input from devices and screens! The idea is that at the end of the month you see what you really want or need to put back in again. Frankly I think I’d rather continue to live like this, as a digital minimalist.

Andalusian mountains.