I am not the type of person who can easily relax–I know, shocking, right? We type A’s, with a good dose of Virgo thrown in as a present from the Universe, are a core reason why social media thrives. Task mastering and to-do lists and super-sized organizing are all enabled by the array of gadgets and gizmos we carry as if our very lives depend on them. However, I can unplug any time. I am the master of my domain. I am my own counsel. I am truly full of it.
I was not always like this. Growing up in Florida, I spent lazy days at the beach with nothing to do but sit on a towel, look out over the waves, and think. Is this forgotten beach girl buried somewhere beneath all the emails, texts, memes, graphs, charts and posts that chronicle my existence?
Image provided courtesy of morgueFile – http://mrg.bz/XOxncK
You may recall that last year I participated in the “Envelope Challenge” in order to save money and surprise the Hubs with a vacation this winter to a place of his choosing. My only caveat was that it had to be some place warm. Given Mother Nature’s winter of 2015 wrath, the fruits of my savings could not have come at a more opportune moment. In the process I may have jinxed the rest of you and condemned us to one of the worst frigid seasons in the history of miserable cold winters–sorry about that.
Last week, on the plane down to the Dominican Republic, Hubs reminded me that using my cell phone was going to be off-limits:
“Um, wait, what?!”
“It’s not like we’ll be in the U.S. or Europe. Your phone is not likely to work. If it does, it will be hella gone expensive. So, I suggest we turn off the phones and not turn them back on until we return stateside on Monday.”
I had expected limited contact, not no contact. My insides churned at the thought of no phone for three days – three days! No texts, no checking Facebook, no HuffPost updates, no random check-ins with my son. Noooooo…..
Arriving at the hotel, the beauty of the place was lost on me. Did I notice the expansive gardens, the lovely light breeze, or the open veranda beckoning us toward paradise? Nope. What I did notice were the other guests in the lobby with their heads down, devices in hand, surfing away on the waves of the Internet. Rejoice, there must be Wi-Fi! I instinctively reached for the side pocket of my purse where my phone resides, but was stopped by a stern sideways glance from the Hubs. #Buzzkiller.
As we checked into the Punta Cana hotel, the receptionist slid a small piece of paper across the marble counter: And here is your free Wi-Fi logon information. “Oh thank God!” exclaimed my BFF who was vacationing with us.
I too was elated, but also a bit disappointed in myself. I felt my inner beach girl shrink away–she had been so close to a bit of freedom out in the sunshine. I promised myself I would try to unplug, to not be one of the texting masses of the lobby.
It was not a completely successful unplugging event. There were times over the next three days when I sneaked a peek at the Facebook feed, posted a few pictures, and checked the emails. However, by the second day I could lock the phone in the room safe and head to the beach without its familiar weight in my beach bag.
What I discovered was that with each step toward the beach, the phone became less crucial to my being. I reconnected with the sound of the waves, the smell of sea salt, and the wondrous feel of warm sand between my toes. I watched a 2 year old girl joyously throw handfuls of sand and mud up into the air and laugh heartily as it rained back down on her Dad. Soon my inner beach girl peaked outside, giggled, and blew a kiss into the wind.
My biggest insight? Nothing of any consequence happened while I was away. There were no emergencies, there was nothing that could not wait until I returned to reality. Perhaps it’s time for a new reality up here in the middle-aged cheap seats.
Do you spend too much time plugged in to technology? Ever tried to disconnect?