Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life Unplugged, Part II

I pulled into the driveway and took a deep breath. After five hours of solitude in my car, I was keenly aware that the whirlwind of the next few days and weeks would mean that time was simply not going to be my own for the rest of the summer. Wallowing in the loss of my Internet access and computer--and everything that was on it--would need to take a backseat to, well, real life.

In four short days my brother was getting married and the celebration was taking place here at the lake. Like any wedding, this one came with its share of last-minute preparations, visitors, dinners, events, nerves, and a few short fuses.

But when all was said and done, late that Friday afternoon I stood before my brother, his bride, and a small group of close family and friends, in the nearby church where the Strouts have attended for generations. I did that traditional "Love is patient, love is kind" reading from the Bible, and not long afterward, Jon and Erika were pronounced husband and wife.

Then the real mayhem began.

Following the two-day celebration of the newly minted union, my cousins moved into the lake house for a week's vacation. I went from a peaceful household of one, to a spirited household of 15, including six kids. We shared 10 days of playing in the water, eating leisurely dinners, having long conversations on the porch over many bottles of wine, drinking coffee in the morning, and of course, filling the house with lots of laughter...adding yet another chapter of family memories at Saylor's Lake.

During my run on one of those mornings it dawned on me that it was the first time in years I didn't feel distracted from any of those moments. There was nothing pressing or cluttering my mind, taking me away from the rare opportunity to fully enjoy the time I was getting to spend with a group of the most important people in my life. I had to wonder why. What was different?

The only conclusion I could come to was that my world was right there and nowhere else--without the option of escaping to cyberspace, there was nothing virtual about my days. I didn't have access to e-mail or Facebook or message boards. Those in my "social network" and "community" (we used to simply call them "friends"), found a way to stay connected--they used this old-fashioned device called the phone, or they stopped by for a visit.

While I thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering the human connection, when the new computer finally arrived, I confess that it took me less than 10 minutes to fire up the wireless access. I took one look at my inbox, where hundreds of unread messages resided, and felt overwhelmed, and a little bit sad. My respite from the real life, as it exists in 2008, was over. I may be able to live in Nowhere, PA, for a while, but I couldn't completely fall off the face of the Earth, for many obvious reasons.

What I learned is that a life unplugged is rejuvenating, healthy, and a good reminder of how to give my attention to the here-and-now, instead of constantly dividing it 20 other ways and letting the virtual world constantly distract me.
Rest assured none of this is to say that I'll be dumping white wine on my home electronics again anytime soon, if I can help it.




Javier said...

I can completely see your point, Being injured has given me a very small opportunity to have more time doing things that I previously did not have time for. Although I do look forward to training again, I do see that sometime we get carried away with this hectic lifestyle, and with the internet forget to make contact with the people around us.

That said get back online already! Enough of this goofing off!

Coach Adam said...

Yes, bleeding on your new computer is better ;-)

Seriously this is why books should not disappear, even if technology like Kindles can provide a "similar" experience. The cool thing about a book is that there are no distractions, no e-mail chimes, no instant messaging, no flipping over to the RwP site to see who has posted. I'm also thrilled you've renewed your relationship with the telephone. Unless you are doing it by yourself, communication is best done by both parties in the moment. Glad you've been enjoying your summer.