Our world has become so technology-focused that sometimes we don’t know what to do without it. We’ve become addicted to it. You can’t go into a waiting room or on public transportation or to a restaurant anymore without seeing people on their phones. Shauna Niequist talks in Bread and Wine about not having her phone on vacation:
[At first] I felt a little jumpy, like something really major might be happening and I might miss it. But as time went on, I realized that the really major things were happening all around me, and more often than not, I had been missing them because my phone had become an extension of my hand, and what it said to people, essentially, is that just being with them isn’t enough. The view of the ocean? Not enough. Your story? Not enough.
Maybe it’s not your phone – maybe it’s spending time checking e-mails or watching TV or wrapped up in a Photoshop project when you could be spending it with other people or reading or taking a walk. It’s so addicting to always be connected to what’s going on in other people’s lives, checking updates on Twitter, and to keep our minds always jumping from one thing to another.
What I found is that being everywhere was keeping me from being anywhere, from being in any one very particular place. All of a sudden, that silence – that blessed, glorious, strange silence – let me be completely in one place.
What I found really interesting was what Shauna said about adjusting to normal life again after the vacation. It’s a lot easier to shut out the noise and be present when you’re walking on a trail or relaxing around the campfire than when you’re back in your everyday routine.
I’ll do almost anything to not be completely present when I’m surrounded by laundry and the baby won’t nap. I don’t want to be even partially present when I’m staring down a deadline, shoulder muscles clenched, caffeine making me both blurred and twitchy. We fragment our minds for a reason, of course – because we like the idea of being sixty-seven other places instead of the one lame, lonely place we find ourselves on some days.
This made so much sense to me because I realized that oftentimes when I turn to technology, what I’m really looking for is a distraction. This isn’t meant to be an anti-technology rant because there really are so many great things about it and it can be a good way to connect with people, relax, and it can be great entertainment, but I find that sometimes I am really looking for a distraction from whatever else I’m doing or what’s going on in my head. When I have work to do, I find myself refreshing my e-mail. When I’m lonely, I’ll spend hours checking blogs and Twitter and Pinterest. When I’m uncomfortable waiting and doing nothing, I’ll pull out my phone to make it look like I’m busy.
Often the really great thing about vacation isn’t the things that you see or places you visit, but the way that it makes you feel. On vacation you don’t usually check your phone every minute or spend hours on your laptop or binge-watch TV shows. It’s a slow-paced place where all that matters is that very moment. Everyday life is a little less ‘glamourous’ than sitting on the beach, but as Shauna says, it’s better to be in one place, wholly and full-heartedly, than a thousand splintery half-places, glamourous as they may be.
Game Plan: If you feel like it may benefit you, try easing off of technology a little bit and remind yourself that whatever you’re doing, live in the moment instead of living in a thousand different places at once. Oftentimes during my breaks at work I will pull out my laptop and surf the internet or watch a TV show. Yesterday I kept my laptop in my bag and I read. Sometimes it’s hard to choose that option because focusing on a screen takes less energy and helps the time go by quickly, but it’s also important every once in awhile to turn off the screens and clear your mind of distractions.
Quote source: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off