So, as you might know, I went on a 5-day cruise with my very best friend, Amanda. It was luxurious, relaxing, healing, and awesometastic – exactly what I needed to help me heal and reconnect after such a traumatic year.
On the cruise, I had no internet. I had access to internet, if I wanted to pay out the teeth for it, but I’m not in favor of the $1/minute rate plan. So I had no internet. I’d loaned my iPhone to Pace for BlogWorld, so I had no iPhone. I had no phone at all, actually – roaming rates wouldn’t have been any better than the internet rates.
I was completely out of touch.
And you know what?
It was wonderful. Peaceful. Relaxing. Non-stressful.
After a while, I certainly missed easy access to all the knowledge in the world. And I missed my friends quickly, after only a day or so. And I missed my family right away. But I never actually missed being plugged in all the time. I only missed my iPhone three times: once when I wanted to google something, once when I wanted to take a picture (but I just asked Amanda and she took it for me), and once when I wanted to show a picture of my kid to someone.
That’s it. Three times.
I occasionally would do or say something I wanted to put up on Twitter, but it wasn’t critical. Suffice to say, you guys missed some funny moments and a few epiphanies, but I’ll write about them here, so you won’t miss much.
I spent an entire week with my laptop closed. At first, I thought, what will I do with myself? – especially when it became clear that Amanda was going to be way more into napping than I. But I found answers that didn’t include the internet. And, surprisingly, the answers were more fulfilling and more aligned with my heart and my path.
I read. I read all of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I loved it; it sparked a lot of deep thoughts as well as warm happy feelings, because I feel like I’m on the right track.
I colored. I brought map pencils and books of mandalas, and I spent several hours sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean, peacefully coloring.
I wrote. My goal was to record each day’s adventure, so I’ll have an accurate and entertaining travel log. I was hoping to keep to my general goal of at least 750 words a day. I more than doubled that most days! I found that giving myself permission to write whatever came up along with having a clear goal (like, keeping an accurate and entertaining travel log) inspired me to write, write, write. And I did. And it is, in fact, an accurate and entertaining travel log.
I napped. I would occasionally engage in long, lingering naps in the cabin, which I found delightful.
I walked. When I got bored or restless, which happened all of once, I took a long walk around the ship. (I took more than one walk, but I only felt restless the once.)
I spent time with myself. And here’s the crux: when I’m at home, I have a tendency to avoid my own company. I like myself, but I don’t enjoy time alone very much. I get thrashy and tend to start hitting the StumbleUpon button, desperate for outside external entertainment. But without the internet, with my laptop closed (and when Amanda was napping), I only had myself.
I found the more time I spent with myself, the more I liked it. The more I liked myself.
Then I came home. Saturday night, I was alone in the house. Pace was still at BlogWorld, Amanda had gone to her own home, my son was away, and I was home. Alone. And immediately, I reverted to old habits: I read my email, I caught up in Google Reader, I read Twitter, I read Facebook… and then, caught up, I did it.
I hit the StumbleUpon button.
But something was different.
As the first page was loading, I took a deep breath. I thought, hold on, I didn’t do this for an entire week! Why am I doing it now? And the answer? Habit. It’s what I do when I’m at home! I have easy access to the internet, I’m plugged in and connected all the time. Why would I do anything else?
Because Stumbling across the internet does not bring me happiness. It doesn’t fulfill me. It doesn’t feel aligned with my heart. It keeps me disconnected from myself and from the world. It’s a numbing agent, an excellent way to tune out and close off.
It’s like TV. And I don’t watch TV for all those reasons, so what was I doing?
I took a second deep breath and closed my laptop. I sat back in my chair and asked myself, If I was still on the ship, what would I do?
I would read. I would write in my journal. I would go for a walk, maybe take a shower. Paint my toenails. Heck, I’m home – I could spend some time petting my cat or listening to music or singing really loud or cleaning up. Anything other than tuning out.
So, I got up. I wandered around the house for a few minutes, then I did take a shower. I wrote in my journal. I painted my toenails. I called Pace and talked to her for a few minutes. And I went to bed a little early.
I felt fantastic. Refreshed. Fulfilled. Connected with myself – and connected with the world. I felt more connected with the world precisely because I felt more connected with myself, in fact. When I’m disconnected from me, I don’t have room for connecting with anyone else. (That’s the first step: connect with yourself.)
Using the internet is good – I love the internet. It keeps me connected with those I love who aren’t nearby. It allows me to help others in ways I never could without it. But if I’m not careful, I slide into using it to keep myself disconnected from myself.
And I won’t be having with that, anymore. I uninstalled the Stumble button. Now, it’ll be up to me to find better things to do with my time.