The Value of the Disconnect

Of late, I have found myself in a world far, far away from that of the Kardashians.  The world in which I currently reside is one where folks leave their doors unlocked, parents fear not when little ones go off for an afternoon of unsupervised play, and the low murmur of a neighbor’s conversation is soothing.

Although any microcosm of humanity necessarily involves gossip, intrigue, and occasional bad behavior, this world has far less of such things than the daily beast of my existence in Washington. Which brings me to today’s point: I counsel you to remove yourself from your daily life if you wish to figure out where you’re going. In order to determine what each of us needs to thrive, we must cultivate perspective on what it is we’re doing. Disconnect to reconnect.

What are you doing? Do you even know?

Re-booting one’s life is the biggest sort of “taking stock” in which a person might engage. Just being at a point in your life where you are willing to contemplate this step is worthy of congratulations, so pat yourself on the back. However, there are manifold middling steps we can take along the way, one of which is finding a temporary retreat from our daily concerns. Yes, we may have access to global matters via our smart phones or tvs, but imagine an existence where the only means to check in with the world is by going to the trouble of parking oneself outside the Piggly Wiggly.

What then? Where might your thoughts drift without such distractions?

In a realm of the 24/7 news cycle, experimenting with a few “unplugged” days such as this results in revelations akin to scales falling off our eyes: how much do I really care about TMZ? What about the European debt crisis?  How important is it that I get to see the heralded, latest installment of the Batman franchise?

Community Service Reminder: there is nothing I can do about the European debt crisis…or the Kardashians. So why worry?

As I sit here, unable to monitor all that the media tells me I should concern myself with, what quietly manifests are those issues I care more about than I realized, like building community or being friendly. I surprise myself by wanting to contribute to the Women’s Association bake sale—something I’d never bother with in my regular life–or, making the effort to chitchat with a vacationing neighbor.

In other words, part of the re-booting process requires that we find ways to tap into the gentle currency of our common humanity that can so easily be forgotten. What might I do if I didn’t feel so competitive or pressed upon? How much of that is more of who I really am or the person I want to be?

Determining the answers to such questions often requires a complete break from our routines.  By removing ourselves from the distractions that pile up in our homes and cars and offices, we temporarily suspend habitual thought patterns—it is in this suspension that insight presents itself.

What counts is what is important to you. And the only way to know the answer is to escape from those daily distractions. Get unplugged to check in.

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2 Responses to “The Value of the Disconnect”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    “get unplugged to check in.” That’s a great line, and so true. I’ve often thought about how different life used to be when I was growing up as a kid ( and that wasn’t that long ago!) There were no cell phones, having an answering machine was kind of a big deal and pcs weren’t in the picture which meant no emailing, no internet and no fb’ing, twting or anything similar. The pace of life was different, but I don’t think that we accomplished much less than we do nowadays…in fact quite the opposite. I always felt like I was involved in something enjoyable and productive, and yes, there was more time to breathe and to be in the moment.
    Today we are so busy trying to be in contact with everyone, that we’re not even in the moment with the people that are around us due to the technology craze. It is definitely time to get unplugged, and back in touch with life on its most fundamental levels—connecting with another person face to face, and taking TIME to just revel in the wonder of the world and being alive. There is no greater gift than just being, and appreciating each moment.
    As I took a walk yesterday I was reminded of how much I enjoy just walking and breathing the air, looking at the sky, the hills, the trees, watching the birds and other random creatures I might encounter…within a matter of moments I immediately feel better, more centered and relaxed and in tune with myself and the world, no matter what kind of a day I’ve been having. There’s something about physically stepping through the world on a walk that gives you a sense of moving through life in a very personal way. You feel like you’re a part of time, and living in a way that you don’t get when you’re racing down the road in a car. You see, in cars, planes, etc, we’re moving through the world but not with ourselves, and that’s a huge difference.
    Similarly, I think technology like computers and phones, as wonderful as they can be, also distance us from intimately experiencing life. We don’t feel like we’re expressing in the same way when we type than when we have to take the effort and time to speak the word, and feel it, hear it. Or when we write by hand and become suddenly aware of the contours of each letter, and the impact of the meaning of what we’re writing.
    I plan to make it a priority to take the liberty of more un-plugged days where the computer can go to sleep, the phone can take a nap, and I can come fully alive with the simpler pleasures of life.
    Thanks for your inspiring message!

  2. grasshopper Says:

    PS–i don’t think I’ll be able to resist seeing the latest Batman installment, though…but that can at least be with some friends and family, so that it’s not entirely a plugged-in experience. 🙂

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