Emmy winning Comedian Louis CK had a great bit on Conan recently where he talked about kids glued to their smart phones and how we use technology/entertainment to run away from the darker things we struggle to face (like grief.)
Louis CK shared a personal experience about taking a break from technology and taking the risk to enter his personal “existential void.”
Check it out (language can be a bit spicy at times.)
As Louis Ck points out, it’s so easy to remain obsessively connected, numb and distracted from the scary deep-dark-waters that lie beneath the surface of our hyper busy lives, continually attached to our devices.
To be fair, this is an inevitable part of trying to manage personal and professional responsibilities in a 24/7 society. But this continual connection to ever present technology does have the capacity to change our sense of reality and our relationship to others, and a connection to our deeper selves. There can be a high price to pay for all that distraction, especially when there is some important stuff to sort out and grieve and deeper longings that we are being called to cultivate.
These longings, if we can give them some attention, alert us that unwittingly, even innocently, we have made idols out of our devices and busyness. In addition is it possible that the related immersion in entertainment, media, pornography and drugs have become addictions that keep us distracted and numb, safely walled off from the painful and scary void Louis Ck spoke of in his Conan presentation?
That great emptiness Louis CK spoke of is actually the existential void that can lead us to either despair or contemplation of the deeper meaning of our lives. When we allow ourselves to be still, to put away the smart phone for a few hours…are we afraid of the silence?
I believe there is a great longing in people, perhaps unconscious and unspoken, but a longing to quiet all the hyper-activity and at least for a time let go of the gadget obsession. I think people hunger to give a voice to the deeper longing of the soul for reconciliation of past losses, to stop running from the pain and allow a healthy expression of the feelings and memories.
One very important caveat that Louis CK did not mention:
If you are going inward, and you encounter some complicated and painful areas of loss, such as abortion or abuse, please don’t try to go it alone. Once you recognize the truth that something like abortion has left a deep wound on your heart and soul, (and this is a great grace!) make sure you fight the temptation to recover from this loss by yourself, and reach out for the help you need. This is especially true for you men out there who may struggle to reach out for help.
As Louis CK points out, our bodies and souls will reward us if we can safely do that grief work because along with the necessary pain and copious tears will come good chemicals, feelings, new insight and understanding.
Best of all, when we safely open up deep parts of our hearts and souls that have been long ignored, numb and lifeless…this freshly tilled soil provides an excellent place for God to sow new seeds of faith, hope and love.
We can come to know in a deeper and intimate way the God who created us and embrace him as our Heavenly Father.
BTW: It was great in that segment with Louis CK and Conan seeing Conan trying to imitate Bruce Springsteen’s primordial wailing at the end of Jungleland. Here’s a powerful beautiful live rendition of Jungleland from Bruce.
The dual wailing of both Clarence Clemons on saxophone and Springsteen’s howling at the close of Jungleland, reveals the depths of human longing and the desperate cry of a suffering soul. I have to agree with Louis CK that this song is deeply moving.