Today, my first book, Disappearing, Inc., is officially published.
It’s a book I wrote on lunch breaks and in traffic jams, in airport lounges and doctors’ waiting rooms, anywhere I had a moment to myself and my phone handy, a place to get down the phrases and images that kept recurring in my head, filling it with a noise that I could feel as real energy in my body. That’s what I discovered about myself as I wrote it—amid the early steps in a PR career that demands constant connection, vigilance, and availability—that I could not sit still. I don’t mean physically (though I can be a little fidgety), I mean I always had to be doing something, with my hands, on my phone, or thinking through something in my mind. Sitting still would cause my anxiety to spike—something I had been spending years trying to get under control. I would feel that things were slipping out of my grasp if I wasn’t paying attention or working on them, that the world was moving fast and I needed to keep pace.
I don’t think this is a particularly unique feeling—we’ve all, or many of us, at least, found ourselves reaching for our phone when we should be doing something else, feeling the pull of all the potential it represents, the friends and news and connections to the world, the cosmos rattling around within as it sits on the table beside us.
But it is a phenomenon that I chased when writing the book. Why does living feel like an endless bombardment of stimuli, noise noise noise draining our energy and vying for our focus that is in turn becoming more and more fractured, ineffective? Why is the way we are expected to give our physical and mental energy fully in service of creating wealth—for ourselves or others—the default today, the lone goal for our lives? How is the world changing, not simply because of new technology, but because of the way we live differently as a result of technology, like wisteria will grow over time around anything in its path? How do we react to the endless streams of data, entertainment, notifications, advertisements, political angles and news reports—it takes resilience not to put up a wall and decide that you’re right and any new information that doesn’t conform to your view should be rejected, and it’s worrisome how the world wears that resilience down one double-shift, one Twitter rant at a time. How will—how ARE—some people taking advantage of our defenses being thin, our new way of processing the world?
Are we solely our jobs, how we “make a living” and feed the insatiable swelling GDP—if not, how do we construct ourselves in a world that gives us endless platforms to revamp and redistribute a new version of who we are, who we want to be? How do we find ourselves and our ways through this world when this consumerist society has placed a value on every skill, every facet, every iota of ourselves, and helped us scatter them through the Internet—taught us how to package and sell ourselves? What of us will live on when we’re gone, and what do we carry today of others who left us—to what degree do they inform who we are?
Does my book answer these questions? Hell no.
But the book, the writing of the book, helped me wrestle with them, put words to the white noise that was growing louder and louder each day in the background of everything I did. It helped me orient myself at a time, well out of college but not feeling like I had as much figured out as should have yet (so, the millennial experience, essentially), and live a little bit more with myself today, learning how I see the world and how I might maneuver through it.
I hope that you’ll read Disappearing, Inc., if you haven’t yet—and I am so grateful for those of you who grabbed early copies, who have shared the book on social media, or cheered me on, or helped me write these poems or the ones that came before them. I hope, if nothing else, that the poems make sense to you, that they’ll crystallize some noise in your life into something you can see, point at, and place in your pocket for later, to see and hear and touch that part of the world only when you want to, to hear its desperate rattle sound once, then twice, then slowly fade away.