I must say, I really miss our iconic Humpty Dumpty!
Our beloved Spring Street twists, curves, and meanders along a high bluff. At every turn it offers something worth taking in. For years, our half-ton Humpty Dumpty sculpture sat atop a limestone wall making people stop, smile, and laugh and serving as a reminder of the street's eccentricity right here in Eureka Springs.
While Spring Street's quirky aura continues today, Humpty Dumpty has left this particular wall. In addition to serving as a reminder of the street's eccentricity, Humpty Dumpty, over the years (not in Eureka Springs specifically, but just because of the iconic character that he is known to be) has been used to demonstrate the second law of thermodynamics.
The law describes a process known as entropy, a measure of the number of specific ways in which a system may be arranged, often taken to be a measure of "disorder".
In the realm of nursery rhymes, the tale of Humpty Dumpty has captivated generations with its simple yet poignant message. However, little did we know that this seemingly innocent rhyme could provide insights into some of the fundamental principles of science and psychology.
In a world driven by constant connectivity and the fear of missing out (FOMO), the parallels between Humpty Dumpty's fate and the laws of thermodynamics, and how they relate to the choices we make between FOMO and the increasingly relevant concept of the joy of missing out (JOMO) become more apparent to me.
After his fall and subsequent shattering, the inability to put him together again is representative of the principle of thermodynamics, as it would be highly unlikely (though not impossible) to return him to his earlier state.
While Humpty Dumpty represents irreversibility and the inability to fix what's broken, the laws of thermodynamics provide fundamental insights into energy and entropy in the physical world.
On the other hand, FOMO is a modern psychological concept driven by the fear of missing out on social experiences. While these concepts are distinct, they can be compared in terms of their implications, irreversibility, and their roles in different domains: nursery rhymes, physics, and psychology.
Fear, as we all know, is a vital response to physical and emotional danger that has been pivotal throughout evolution. If people didn’t feel fear, they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves from legitimate threats — which often had life-or-death consequences in the ancestral world.
Just as Humpty Dumpty couldn't be pieced back together due to the increase in disorder caused by his fall, the Second Law of Thermodynamics reminds us that the universe's natural tendency is towards chaos and randomness. Similarly, the constant pursuit of always being "in the know" and fearing the possibility of missing out can lead to emotional and mental chaos. This is where the concept of FOMO comes into play.
Today, in our modern world, the stakes are lower. Although elevators, public speaking, and spiders generally don’t present immediately dire consequences, some individuals still develop extreme fight-flight-or-freeze responses to specific objects or scenarios.
Many people experience occasional bouts of fear, such as when giving a high-stakes presentation, or feelings of "nerves," such as going on a first date. But when a fear is persistent, specific to certain threat, and impairs one’s life or growth, that person might have a truly specific phobia.
Nowadays, so many people check social media obsessively because there is a crazy fear of being out-of-the-loop, or not being the coolest, or relevant, or the most liked - likely because of FOMO.
FOMO can lead to stress, decision-making challenges, and dissatisfaction.
I mean, Heaven forbid one should miss the latest news about whether Brad and Jen are actually back together, or which winter coat is trending, or what's going on with the Kardashians or even what your friends are eating for breakfast this morning at Mud Street Cafe. (it's delish there, by the way!)
Amidst the chaos of FOMO, there emerges a contrasting concept that offers a way to regain balance and restore a sense of order in our lives — Enter: JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out.
JOMO invites us to embrace the moments of quiet, solitude, and simplicity. It encourages us to step away from the constant noise of the outside world and reconnect with ourselves and the present moment.
In many ways, JOMO reflects the idea behind the Third Law of Thermodynamics, which states that as the temperature of a system approaches absolute zero, the entropy approaches a minimum value. In other words, at the coldest and quietest point, the system achieves a state of maximum order.
Hmmmm, ain't January coldest and quietest here?
Similarly, by allowing ourselves to experience the joy that comes from missing out on the frantic pace of the world, we create space for clarity, self-reflection, and a deeper connection with our own desires and needs. Just as the lowest possible temperature marks a point of order in thermodynamics, the intentional pursuit of missing out on certain experiences leads to a state of mental and emotional order.
JOMO is a positive state of mind where individuals find happiness and contentment in missing out on certain activities or events, choosing to disconnect and prioritize their own well-being.
Back during the time of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, FOMO dissipated. Many think this is because as a result of quarantine, and shelter-in-place, people started to seek more JOMO moments instead of FOMO. In hindsight, this might actually be the ONE AND ONLY thing about C-19 that I am actually quite pleased about.
The Importance of Choosing JOMO in January in Eureka Springs
JOMO and January in Eureka Springs are synonymous to me. This particular month promotes JOMO in so many ways - in other words, more mindfulness, more self-care, and a sense of freedom from the pressures of constant engagement during the "peak season" months. It's also my birthday month, and I love quiet-ish birthday parties.
In 2006, I was living in Seattle, Washington, and I was twelve years into having my own (very first) personal, cellular telephone. I felt like my life was tethered to this thing, and I could NOT get away no matter how hard I tried, so I created this tradition for myself (in the spirit of self-love) and I used to do one (1) MFW weekend every three months.
Seriously, I did this!
(MFW = Media Free Weekend.)
A MFW is similar to the Tech Shabbat which is a term coined in 2010 by Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg to describe a day of rest or cessation from the use of all technology with screens: smartphones, personal computers, ipods, tablets and television.
More and more articles about a Tech Shabbat are surfacing as people begin to realize that it is OK to be out-of-the-loop sometimes and it's actually quite healthy to stop, rest and reset.
This term, Shabbat, is based on the practice of observant Orthodox Jews, who refrain from all work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I think that I should get credit for coming up with MFW four years before Tiffany and Ken, but <wink> that's another story altogether.
During a Tech Shabbat, not only is it encouraged to step away from the work and the use of all technology with screens, many also often stop cooking, engaging in commerce, writing, among many other tech-focused activities. One thing is for certain, a MFW definitely does not use technology – no TV, computer, phones, ipads, tablets, radio, etc.
As we all approach another January in Eureka Springs, I encourage you to embrace the idea and concept of JOMO this January.
Go on, retreat yourself!
This is a powerful concept to help all of us all truly unplug and take time to be present and conscious of who we are, where we are and how grateful we are.
"While most people do not commit to such a strict period of rest, I have discovered that the notion of shutting off your technology for a specified period of time seems to be appealing to more and more people."
Pay Homage to our Former Humpty Dumpty and Take Steps to Embrace your own JOMO
Digital Detox: Take periodic breaks from digital devices and social media. Allow yourself the freedom to be present without the constant distractions of notifications and updates.
Mindful Consumption: Be selective about the information you consume. Choose to engage with content that adds value and enriches your life, rather than overwhelming you.
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for work, social engagements, and personal time. Respect these boundaries and communicate them effectively to those around you.
Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. This could include meditation, reading, spending time in nature, or pursuing creative hobbies.
Cultivate Gratitude: Shift your focus from what you might be missing out on to what you already have. Cultivating gratitude can help you appreciate the present moment and foster contentment.
Prioritize Meaningful Connections: Invest your time and energy in building deep and meaningful relationships. Quality connections can offer a sense of belonging and fulfillment that superficial interactions cannot provide.
Embrace the Power of "No": Learn to decline invitations and commitments that don't align with your priorities. Saying "no" allows you to make room for the things that truly matter to you.
As we reflect on the tale of Humpty Dumpty, the laws of thermodynamics, and the battle between FOMO and JOMO, it becomes clear that the pursuit of constant connection and the fear of missing out can lead to a fractured sense of self and emotional turmoil. Instead, the joy of missing out provides a way to restore order and meaning in our lives by embracing moments of simplicity, introspection, and genuine connection.
Just as the universe moves towards disorder, our world can sometimes feel like it's spiraling into chaos. However, we have the power to choose our response.
By embracing JOMO, we can resist the pull of FOMO, find tranquility in the midst of chaos, and piece ourselves back together in a way that aligns with our true selves. In the end, the pursuit of JOMO can lead to a more fulfilling, mindful, and joyful existence. While Humpty Dumpty and FOMO are associated with negative emotions (loss, anxiety), the laws of thermodynamics are neutral principles. JOMO, on the other hand, represents a positive emotional state. JOMO promotes mindfulness, self-care, and a sense of freedom from the pressures of constant engagement.
So, take a step back, take a deep breath, and savor the beauty of missing out this January when things become beautifully slow here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.❤️