I attempted to unplug for the day and broke that resolution the minute I Instagram storied from my semi-monthly brunch with a dear friend Molly, at our most favorite spot, Raymond’s in Montclair, NJ. Although we don’t work together in that sweet little house on Park Street for years now, we have been diligent in maintaining our sisterhood. Same place, every other month or so, a corner booth, hot cappuccino for her, iced for me, over easy for her, scrambled for me, butter for her, butter and jam for me. There are animated giggles, angst balanced by joy, and cold home fries because we just have so much to say that we can’t quite finish the food in its “hot” window. I surely can’t unplug now as I feverishly type from another cafe, brimming with thoughts from our two plus hours of being immersed in one another.
Molly always graciously shares her wisdom and assurance with me, I share with her my latest frenzy or accomplishment. We are quite possibly mirror images of one another born in different times. Catholic-raised, anxiety-ridden, maternal, a little rebellious, introspective, deeply feeling, and bearers of smiles on the outside even when we are hurting on the inside. Per usual we dove to great depths covering topics like social comparison, shame, guilt, and fear. She had recently taken herself off a few social platforms as they were not serving her in a productive and healthy way. And while my job is precisely to reside in this strange digital world, I can’t quite disagree with her choice. I think it was a prudent practice in self care. She asked how I can subject myself to reading and digesting all of this highly polarizing and evocative content on a daily basis. Image after image, narrative after narrative. “Isn’t your brain fatigued from all of these perspectives?” she said. “Whose truth is actual truth because yours is surely different than mine. And why should anyone else's perception be superior?” Preach, Molly.
I am endlessly seeking information from the outside in. Social cues, suggestions from media, family and peers, and mandates from thought leaders set the pace for my day. Quite frankly, it is tiring to react every moment of every day. To attach uncessecarily to the plot that unravels around me, I become a character in a play I never auditioned for. I compare my uncut footage to someone's highlight reel, or worse I portray a highlight reel for fear of sharing what is imperfect. Sometimes, most times, it is a monologue of my own vicious making. “Words are powerful,” she said, “and we are most harsh when speaking to ourselves.” Right again she was.
During our social hour, Molly shared with me wonderful, personal news. Yes, you heard right. We exchanged news in person, face to face, not via a screen. We touched hands and celebrated. We chatted about gender bias, podcasts, how to establish routines, how challenging it can be to exercise first thing in the morning, and her position on television. Words are powerful. Best we share ours thoughtfully with people deserving of them, and disengage when it all gets to be too much.