Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lessons from Vacation - Part 3: Unplugging

Lesson from Vacation - Part 3: Unplugging is a good thing.
The swim beach @ the lake.
I still remember my first cell phone. Actually, it wasn't my phone. I was in college, traveling to a friend's wedding, and well, my parents decided I needed to borrow their "bag" phone. (Boy, do I wish I had a picture of it. It was HUGE compared to today's photos.)

I laughed then at the idea of having a "car phone." It seemed like such an extravagance - completely outrageous and unnecessary.

My first "flip phone" of my own came after my first semester of Seminary. After having tremendous car trouble that plagued me from the Mississippi River bridge in St. Louis all the way to Wilmore, Ky, (all while trying to beat a fierce snow storm), my aunt decided I needed to have "some" way to contact help - beyond the my regular list of pay phones. (I drove it enough that my mom knew how long it would take me to get from the various pay phones at the designated stops.)

That first cell phone plan cost $50 per month (at least) and came with, I think a max of 50 minutes per month. I carried it in case of an emergency when I traveled - and used it vary rarely.

Again, I remember laughing at the guys who walked around on campus wearing their phones clipped to their belts. We thought it seemed extravagant and well, geeky.

Gradually over the years, my cell phone use has increased. This was especially true during my last full-time job in journalism. Because it was a web-based paper, people expected to be able to get a hold of me 24/7. I increased my minutes to more than 900 per month after a couple of huge bills.

Fast forward 15 years. My iPhone is my only phone. After the last two moves, I didn't even bother to get a home phone. It just seemed unnecessary.

My cell phone seems to go everywhere with me. Between the phone calls, texting, e-mail and web, I never completely unplug. (I know I'm not the only one who is like this.).Life is truly full of noise 24/7.
During my vacation, I set a goal to "unplug" during the week. Because I knew I wouldn't have access to Internet, I didn't even take my laptop. I tried my best to stay off Facebook and e-mail. (A really limited cell signal helped me accomplish this....)

But it seemed as if I could never really, completely disconnect from the world. It wasn't that I thought the everything would end if I turned it off, but because the phone has become such a part of my life, I found myself reaching for it, even as I craved the solitude turning it off would bring me.

Unplugging (even in my limited way) was a good thing. It's almost as if my brain was overloaded by everything in my life. It's not that I quit listening to God before my vacation, but seemed to be easier to hear things without the huge distractions my "multi-tasking," "noise-filled" life.

Do you ever completely unplug? If so, how do you do it? What tricks do you do to turn off the noise, so you can actually be in solitude? Those are just a few of the questions am still trying to answer.

A final thought - does multi tasking really re-wire how we think? Even as I type this post, the TV is on as background noise.  (I often write/work listening to music or an audio book). I honestly think being on the lake was one of the first times I've experienced "natural" silence in quite a while.

I wonder why silence has become so rare in my life?

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