But all intellectuals love bogeymen to shadow-box: I do so myself on occasion.
— Theodore Dalrymple, “A Strange Alliance”, Anything Goes
On days when work and other chores keep me too busy to spend time online, the truth of the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” becomes quickly apparent. One can live an interesting life and never lack for things to do without ever sparing a thought for politics, philosophy, academia, social media, or sundry other cultural ephemera. A central insight in Buddhism is the inherent dissatisfaction caused by “clinging” to feelings and experiences rather than seeing them as the transient things they are and letting them dissipate. For too many cerebral people, the shadows they spar with thicken and become more like the tar baby that trapped Br’er Rabbit. I know too many people whose online lives are spent bitterly cursing and thrashing against the objects of their animosity with which they’re entangled. Sciamachy is indeed fun as a form of mental exercise, but sometimes you need to spread mulch, cut grass, or just sit on the porch on a cool spring morning watching the birds, and let the shadows fade away.