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.