The Pinterest craze has provided many of us with new ways to kill time. And I mean, kill it dead. The unbelievable depth and breadth of resources available present an enormous challenge to those of us with a passion for, well, anything. Because it’s all on there – the whole world of hobbies, ideas, design, innovation, crafts, houses, book ideas, every possible manifestation of human interest. It’s easy to start, hard to put down, and even harder to catch up on sleep after your first week. Which is why all kinds of folks are including Pinterest in their media fasts, their unplugging, their general efforts to return to sane and local living. (Patti Digh has a great little piece on that here.)
The real challenge, I think, is in moderation, in judicious use of the resources with a discerning eye, so that you a) aren’t constantly on there, and b) you only pin what you want to use, for feeding you in some important way. (Here, my pastor mother-in-law would smile and say: “As it so often is in our spiritual lives.”) Indeed, one friend asked (on facebook, amusingly): “does Pinterest provide beauty or value, or does it just give us more information? Because I have enough information.” I answered yes, beauty and value indeed, because of how it enables us to keep contact (distanced, sorted, organized contact) with information, with good ideas and beautiful, inspirational images.
I am one of those people who struggles to live in the present because I am always trying to bear (“to carry”) in mind too many kinds of information: the location of that recipe I want to cook for dinner; the directions for that fun activity I want to try with my kids tomorrow; the pattern for the hat I will crochet my niece for Christmas; the paint color I saw in someone’s bathroom that I want to try in ours. And that’s just the domestic sphere! What of the brilliant “slow money” article I keep losing track of? The book on radical homemaking that offers new ways of imagining barter? The website that’s a useful model for my consulting practice? My head is constantly moving on several levels at once, which is an advantage in terms of getting things done but a distinct disadvantage in the peace-of-mind category. It took me until a few months into my Pinterest love-affair to realize the enormous gift it offered me: to be here and now without ceding my hold on the future. It offers us what is essentially a spiritual opportunity, previously available (perhaps) only to those writers and contemplatives who kept and used tiny portable notebooks. By pinning (in our portable phones, even?) the next great family activity or the last painting that made us gasp, we can store our cherished visions without giving them up; we can live our lives AND remember where and how those visions are; we can revisit them in all their detail and promise, erasing what no longer fits or reorganizing to accommodate new dreams; we can share these visions, when we choose to, with friends; and most of all we can do all this without fear of spending our lives away from center, from the here and now. We can set down the dream, or pin it up, and not have to live in its shadow for fear of failure or forgetting. That way we can be here, now, with our lived realities, and still honor the hopes we have for other, better, fuller lives. Because we do have those hopes, and yet we only fulfill them through living, here and now, rather than dreaming in the ether.