My wife Linda and I just returned from vacation. For several days, we stayed at A Valley View Inn of New Bedford—gathered for a reunion with my 92 year old father in-law and Linda’s siblings and some of our nieces and nephews. During our Ohio stay in the middle of the Amish-saturated countryside, our iPhones indicated “No Service” the entire time. No phone. No email. No text messages. No internet. No social media. No blogging. Nothing. Not even a television. We were unplugged.
It was a little disconcerting at first. What if someone needed to reach us? What if our twin-laden pregnant daughter went into labor? What if my neighbor needed to reach us about something happening to our home? But it only took a day and it was mostly relaxing.
I say “mostly relaxing,” because there were some initial electronic withdrawal symptoms. I wanted to check the weather forecast. I wanted to read the electronic newspaper from back home. I wanted to post some newly captured photos on Facebook. I didn’t. I couldn’t.
While I was unplugged from my normal links to my daily world, I was connected. I connected to our extended family. I talked. I listened. I laughed. I enjoyed the early morning harmonies of songbirds. I enjoyed my hobby of photographing the birds. I listened to the clip-clop of Arabian horses pulling Amish buggies on the road nearby. I connected to God, self and others.
Here are a few quick reflections on the experience:
Once I got past the first 24 hours, I stopped the habitual looking at my phone to see if there were any new emails or voicemails.
My attention span increased. I found it easier to keep focused in conversations with family members.
I found a sense of relief from the pressure to constantly read and respond to emails or Facebook messages.
I felt my emotional and physical tank being refilled as I disconnected from the things that drain me and connected with the things that refuel me.
If you haven’t ever deliberately unplugged for a specific period of time, I encourage you to do so. Even if you can only manage forty-eight hours, it’s worth it. Trust me, you need it more than you think. We all do.
QUESTION: Have you unplugged recently? Share briefly one thing you learned.