Technology Time Out

Dear Readers,

One day last week, I left home in a rush, leaving my laptop sitting on my desk in Chimacum, where I live with my husband John. When I arrived at my cabin in Indianola, checked my book bag and found it missing, my heart sank. Of course, all my afternoon plans revolved around it: I had to check email, grade student poems in my online class, write a blog post for the Pen & Bell. Yes, it’s here, John reported, when I called in a panic. Yes, he’d bring it down to me that night.  But what about all these hours in the meantime?  All that work I’d planned, nay not just planned, NEEDED to do? I debated driving the 45 minutes each way to get it, but couldn’t justify the extra trip when John would be coming down that evening.

Luckily, my dog Fox showed up at my studio door just then, with his best Let’s go for a walk! expression. You’re on, I said, and we headed out into the sunny afternoon together. He seemed to know what we both needed, heading down to the beach where we walked for more than an hour, soaking up the sun, running into friends I hadn’t seen in months. When we returned home, I had just enough time to weed the flower beds, plant lobelia in the flower boxes, give the garden a good drink of water. By the time John showed up for dinner—with my laptop—I felt rested and revived, ready to put in an evening of work.

I resolved, then, to take a Technology Time Out each week, to be reminded to return to my community and what sustains me. I didn’t dream I’d have a chance to try it again so soon. This week, it happened again. I was at Edmonds Community College to meet with a student in my poetry class who was having trouble with the online system, Blackboard, but when we tried to log on, found the network was down. I couldn’t work on Blackboard, I couldn’t catch up on email, as I’d intended. But now I knew what to do. I headed for the ferry and walked on the beach in Edmonds until the ferry arrived, grateful for another afternoon in the sun.

One afternoon this week, turn off your Smart Phone, your laptop, your iPad, your iPod, and spend a few hours deliberately free of technology. View this time as an opportunity to rest and renew your spirit. Then write about how it felt to be in the non-connected world, but perhaps connected in a deeper way.

May you have the opportunities for many “time outs” in your life, not just this week, but in all the weeks ahead.




3 thoughts on “Technology Time Out

  1. Holly, I’m going to take a run at Time Out Sundays. We get the Sunday New York Times and LA Times delivered to the porch, so I’ll have the news. I’ll probably glance at Mail on the iPhone to see if anything desperately important is there, but only make emergency responses. We’ll see how that works. I might report on Monday.

  2. Oh didn’t I sound sure of myself! Somewhere around mid-morning I was back on. I made a good start, and I was writing in a journal, with ink, about the day ahead, the tomatoes I would turn into sauce, the three huge cauliflowers I would roast, clearly not needing my computer to do that. Although I know I can write in ink, I do mostly keep my writing on the computer, and edit on the computer. But this would be a day away from that unless activity unless I wanted to fool with something in hard copy. I could do that. Then I examined my particular use of the Internet, knowing I don’t have the sort of connection as younger, busier people who must keep their fingers on the buttons as they go about accomplishing things, because it’s a necessary tool. I’m more likely to check the news, work a NYTimes crossword puzzle, read the cartoons in the online version of the New Yorker, peruse the blogs of friends and other interesting people. In other words, leisure activities. Replaceable if my computer died, although I would miss the blogs.

    But then I started thinking about the actual, physical journal I was writing in, and how much I love the feel of it, how it’s my favorite, how I want to get another one for when I’m through with this one. And I wanted to know, is it still available? I wrote down the information from the cover so that when I was back on line I could search for it. And I tried to write about something else, do something else. And kept thinking about the question — is it still available? I couldn’t wait. I had to know. I just gave up and rushed to the computer, trying to look nonchalant and as if I wasn’t caving in.

    The journals are available. And I’ve ordered a few. The shipping cost is atrocious. And what I learned about my own use of the computer is that my particular dependency is to find out what I want to know right now! I have learned to depend on the immediacy. I have no impulse control when a question comes up that my Internet connection can answer for me. And in this particular episode there may have been some material acquisitiveness mixed in there (ha! a little?) along with the knowledge acquisitiveness. So that is my confession. And I will try again next Sunday.

    • Thanks for the “confession” Barb! I behave exactly the same way; once I have a question, even the most ridiculous one, I have to get right online to find the answer, which often leads to more questions, and more answers, etc., etc. There’s very little space these days, it seems, between not-knowing and knowing; between the words “I wonder” and having that wonder squashed.
      I want to expand that gap whenever I can, because who knows what other kinds of wisdom lie in-between?