As we explained in a recent blog post, Williams Powers writes in his book Hamlet’s Tables about how Shakespeare’s Hamlet used his “tables” to make a list when he felt distracted.
Of course, Hamlet’s tables were much different from the list that shows up on our computer screen or telephone. Hamlet wrote on pages made of specially coated paper or parchment with a metal stylus and then erased his notes with a sponge.
Powers makes the point that people in London during the time when Shakespeare was writing his plays felt distracted by life in a busy city. Today, he says, “we’re all busier. Much, much busier. It’s a lot of work managing all of this connectedness.”
Just as Hamlet needed a solution to cope with his distractions, we need to find solutions today, Powers emphasizes. “We’re losing something of great value, a way of thinking and moving through time that can be summed up in a single word: depth. Dept of thought and feeling, depth in our relationships, our work and everything we do.”
The Internet and 24-hour-a-day news. E-mails, text messages, voice mail. What we need, Powers insists, is “to master the art of disconnecting.”
No, we don’t have to throw away our cell phones or laptops. But sometimes we need a little bit of quiet, a little bit of space.
One of Powers’ suggestions is simple. Create your own Walden Zone.
Henry David Thoreau was not a hermit, Powers stresses. He had frequent visitors to his cabin after he moved to the woods in 1845. Also, he lived in his cabin only two years and then returned to society.
“The point is not to withdraw from the world but within the world,” Powers concludes. Create your own Walden Zone within your home—“a zone where simplicity and inwardness reign—a sanctuary from the crowd.”
Your Walden Zone, Powers says, should be “a room where no screens of any kind are allowed.”
As Thoreau explained in his journal, “You think I am impoverishing myself by withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for higher society.”