The inbetweens

It’s no secret that we like to portray our lives as one long, continuous highlights reel. Social media affords us the liberty to choose how people see us. We are the only species with the incredible ability to be agents of our own perception.

Poppy Crum does a great job of illustrating just how unique this ability is. In her TED talk, she demonstrates how spiders are able to tune their webs much like a violin; able to resonate with certain frequencies and notify the spider when there’s a match. These receptive frequencies can be tuned specifically to ward off certain types of prey— think echolocation from bats. If you can produce the right pitch with your voice, you can mimic one of the same predatorial frequencies and invoke the spider’s defensive response.

The point is these creatures reveal aspects of their internal state. In effect, they have little control over their own perception. A blessing or a curse — humans are burdened with the ability to choose otherwise.

I think its precisely this adaptation, an increased awareness of our internal states, and the ability to limit our external perception to highly refined and curated aspects of that state through social mediums that has lead to a neglection of what I’d like to call ‘the inbetweens’.

The heck is an ‘inbetween’ man?

Glad you asked.

You can call it by many names, some people refer to it as the ‘grind’, others might even call it hard work. It’s the bulk of day-to-day life and routine that sits in between you as you currently are, and your next worthwhile accomplishment.

It’s the 11/12 months a year you spend hacking away at your day job so that you can spend the other 1/12 months travelling. The 6/7 days a week you sacrifice following a meal plan so that you can ‘cheat’ on the 7th.

We should invest in making better inbetweens.

We will spend the majority of our lives dwelling in these inbetween moments. It’s a fact of the definition of an inbetween — the moments that punctuate everything else; all the highlights. Invariably dense, outdrawn, and at times dull, bearable at best. The relationship between our best moments and the inbetweens manifests as a sacred cosmic balance. It’s a makes sense those long, outdrawn, seemingly dull moments not fuel and allow for greater appreciation of the highlights.

The issue I see is — most people are content to deprive themselves of an enjoyable daily experience in order to live up to and better cherish the good times. While circumstances may dictate this a necessity for some, I do not believe this to be a uniform requriement among society. Instead of eating cardboard Monday through Saturday so you can enjoy a bar of chocolate on Sunday, why not better distribute that enjoyment throughout the week?

An outdrawn path to retirement. — Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

The same notion is shared with retirement. How many people grind through 40 years of gruelling labour to only ‘start’ enjoying life at retirement? What if we could enjoy life at every stage, and not indebt it at one time or another, for a greater future experience. In The Four Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferris advocates the idea of ‘mini-retirements’ which can be regularly taken every few months. To an outside observer, this makes eons more sense. It takes the same intrinsic need for human rest and re-balance, ever so present in the 5 day work 2 day rest paradigm, and applies that at a more macroscopic scale. Rather than waiting all those years to eentually kick your feet up, would it not make more sense to better spread out that rest and retirement throughout the younger years where the rest and refreshment could help you steam toward your goals?

The need to constantly refine and tweak our perception for the benefit of elevating social status among our peers may be one of the reasons we neglect to see things in this manner. Social media is a never ending highlights reel — and the omniprescense of its use can make individuals feel like they need to contribute and continuously beef up their own highlights reel, even if it comes at the detriment of their daily experience. Is it worth it?