Have you ever thought about unplugging for a bit? I felt the need to do a modified period of unplugging. Since the school year ended at the close of May. I have not checked any of my three email accounts. Maybe having 3054 unread emails would drive you over the edge. I have found that not knowing about the great sale that Zulily is having on my favorite brand or seeing the email receipt of a bill paid has not bothered me a bit. In fact, this absence of constant info has allowed me to focus on the moment.
I have not totally been unplugged. I have posted pictures of my summer travels and a few pictures of my outdoor babies (plants) at their peek on Facebook. I still scan through posts once a day, but I am not checking constantly. And again, I have lived just fine experiencing all I can in my days off. I have made two trips, visited with family, and enjoyed some pleasure reading.
I have never had my phone connected to give me instant notifications of emails or social media which, I guess, has made my time of somewhat unplugging easier for me. I also know that some in their twenties and thirties have never had a time in their life where they were unreachable. For them, my children included, a few moments without access to a cell phone could cause duress.
Even I have a hard time remembering how we navigated or booked a hotel room before the days of the internet. As my friend Renee’ and I wandered around the streets of Savannah last week using Google maps to give us walking directions to a restaurant, I pondered life before… How did I make reservations for hotels? I know I did because we went places but there wasn’t a Priceline or Expedia or even a Google Search. Did I just call information (younger people wouldn’t know what that is either- a real person who looked up things in telephone directories for a small fee on your phone bill) and ask for hotels at Gulf Shores? Then, after calling and reserving a room with a real person who worked there, we would get the address and look it up on a paper map and chart our course. After we arrived, and we always did even without navigation assistance, my mother always wanted me to call her (on a push button or rotary, land-line telephone) and let her know we were okay and give her the phone number of the hotel to call in case of an emergency. Then, we would enjoy a few days really unplugged from our friends and family.
I know the story of how to go on vacation before cell phones makes me sound ancient. Some days I feel as if I am, but in reality, this happened about twenty-five years ago. In those years we have watched mailed letters be replaced by email, pagers be replaced by cell phones, and maps be replaced by navigation devices.
Last week, as my friend and I followed the walking directions from Google Maps in an effort to find The Public Market restaurant (a great place to eat by the way) in circles, I longed for a relic from the past- a good ole paper map, so that I could decide the closest path to our destination.
I guess the most inspiring reason for me to encourage you to be a little more unplugged came at the end of our trip. We watched a beautiful sunset at the Riverwalk Park next to the Savannah River. I sat admiring the colors of the setting sun as it reached the river’s edge just beyond the expanse of the bridge when I noticed a family of four sitting on the bricks across from me. The parents were both entranced in the screens of their personal devices while their two girls played nearby. I snapped a picture of them to serve as a reminder to be present in the moment. Of course, they didn’t notice. They never looked up. I sat looking at them a few more moments and thought about how many people are just like them, and I guess I was thankful that twenty-five or thirty years ago I didn’t have a screen to stare at. I made enough parenting blunders of my own without that to add to my not being attentive enough. If I would have had the courage I should have walked up to the couple and asked if I could send them the photograph I had made, so they might see. Even then they might have only seen a typical family photo.
Enough of my unplugging ramblings. Pause for a moment and think about what you might unplug for a bit. You might find that you could live without that thing for a moment and have time to see what’s in front of you.