There’s no doubt that technology is awesome.I wouldn’t want to imagine my life without it. From connecting with friends near and far via email and social media to shopping, technology has become as much a part of my every day life as breathing and eating. But of course, as with so many things in life, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. And while it sounds easy to say “I’m going to unplug for the weekend,” the reality, at least for me, has been that no matter how hard I try, I find it quite challenging.
I love being self-employed, and I happily pay the price for the freedom being my own boss brings, which is that you essentially never get a day off. I love what I do, so for me, work and non-work often blends together. But more and more, I’m also realizing that I need to step back from everything on a regular basis. Even when I’m not working, it’s just too tempting to “check Facebook just for a minute.” Next thing I know, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and it’s an hour later. And that’s not good for my mental health.
So when friends invited me to their lovely weekend house this past weekend, I was determined to unplug. My friends’ house is surrounded by trees, with a view of the river. The only sounds you hear there are the wind in the trees and the sounds of birds and other wild critters. There is cell phone reception, but no Wifi.
It was weird to pack without taking my laptop, iPad and assorted chargers. I only took my phone, and my Kindle.
I checked my email once on Friday evening. I woke up just before sunrise Saturday morning, and briefly checked email. I started to check in on Facebook, and then realized how crazy that was. There was a beautiful sunrise outside, just waiting to be appreciated. What was I doing staring at my phone? I grabbed a cup of coffee (my hosts were still sleeping, but had thoughtfully primed the coffee maker for their early riser guest) and headed outside. I spent the next hour on the patio, watching the sun rise over the river between the trees. I marveled at the way the light changed from one minute to the next. Assorted critters stopped by to forage for their breakfast. I felt a sense of peace unlike anything I’ve felt in a long time.
For the rest of the weekend, I didn’t touch my phone except to read the texts from my cat sitter, letting me know how the girls were doing, or to take photos. I didn’t check email, I didn’t check Facebook, I didn’t even check comments here on the site (my apologies to anyone whose comments weren’t answered until Monday morning.) I admit I felt a little twitchy at times throughout the day on Saturday at the thought of what might be happening online that I might be missing, but by Sunday, I didn’t give being unplugged another thought and just enjoyed my time with my friends, the beautiful scenery, and the joy of doing absolutely nothing.
I came home Sunday evening, refreshed and relaxed. I was tempted to check on everything online that evening, but decided that everything could wait until Monday morning. I spent the evening snuggling with Allegra and Ruby, who were happy to have me home.
And you know what? Everything was still there. My business hadn’t imploded. World news was still bad (one of the best things about the weekend was that I never once checked any news sites.) I don’t think I missed anything important on Facebook, and if I did, I’m sure I’ll eventually find out about it.
I’m going to make a real effort to find a way to unplug more even when I’m home, in my normal routine. Maybe I won’t unplug every weekend, but maybe unplugging for an entire day on Sunday might not be such a bad idea. And when I need a little reminder of why unplugging is so good for the soul, I’ll go to my friends’ weekend house in my mind to help me recapture the memory of how peaceful being truly present without electronics feels like.
How about you? Do you unplug on a regular basis, or do you find it difficult?