I recently became more conscious of what I have close to me, and the consequences for how I am and what I become.

The confluence of three observations lead to the insight:

  • researching the etymology of the word “ease”
  • Bateson’s digital – analog distinction as it relates to language
  • a smartphone being next to my bed as an alarm while my watch is being repaired.

The origins for the word ‘ease’ refer to ‘lie near’ So, literally, what lies closer is easier. The digital word has powerful analogical implications.

My smartphone being so close to me made it easier to reach for it in the morning to check the weather via satellite than to look out (let alone walk to the window or outside). It was easier to flick through news than finish ‘The Prince’ as my phone is on top of my books so more accessible.

Observing the arrangement of my bedside belongings I realised there are real limits to what can be close to me. There’s only so much space within reach. The same goes for my room, work desk, social relationships or in any other domains of existence.

The consequence of one thing being close means others are relatively more distant. The same is true of what can be given time, energy or attention. As far as I can tell, there is no way around this. There’s only so many things that can be in reach, done daily or be in focus.

Making something easy has ‘ecological’ implications. I mean that in a few different ways:

  • a unit of analysis in ecology being the organism and it’s environment,
  • ecology as it refers to the relationships between beings and their surroundings
  • it being easier to use non-renewable energy and resources than organic biology (smartphone access or driving vs looking or walking)
  • the context of existence being habitual and so what we adapt to.

Becoming more conscious of what I’m bringing close to me, and what unintentionally becomes distant, has stayed with me since.

It’s very powerful to get beyond language and observe quite literally and practically, what I have close to me. What is just to hand and what is distant. 

If I desire to shift how I am or what I do, the simple act of changing location or proximity to people, practices or concepts is very powerful. Far more powerful that repeatedly drawing on will or intention to reach ‘beyond’ what’s easy.

With what we are intimate may more directly creating us than we are aware of.