(Johnny & Rick, Hurricane Ridge summit, Olympic National Park, 7/16)
"The mountains are calling and I must go. - John Muir"
Once a year, we head out to someplace remote for a week and we hike. This year it was Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks. I'm going to make the time to talk more about both of those destinations later, because Rainier in particular was amazballs, but today is not that day.
Today I want to share with you a lesson I took from the mountain.
Lesson: I live in a world now where it is exceedingly more difficult to connect because I do not disconnect. It is sucking the joy from life. I am robbing myself of precious moments in my life that I meditate about at yoga!
We are buried in our electronic devices. Do we ever electronically detox? Even during down time and "off" time, we are linked in, hooked up, and posting, posting, posting. We buy battery back-up packs for our ever-present phones in the event - God forbid - it runs out of juice. We have alerts set on our phones to notify us of the very moment someone sends an email or posts on social media. The text message "ding!" goes off and like a Pavlov dog we robotically reach for our phone. The person we were speaking with or thing we were doing is now secondary to the "ding!". When we wake in the morning, we reach for our phone. I am embarrassed to tell you that there are days I look at my emails before I get out of bed. And when I do this, it produces a sense of urgency that over rides even my need for coffee. There are times I look at my Facebook or Instagram feed as a final act before shutting off my bedside table lamp. Text messaging is the new black.
What are we teaching our children? What are we robbing our own selves of by not being fully present in our moments?
I had made up my mind before I left for Seattle that except for one Instagram post per day (and I actually didn't even do that), I would stay off of the internet for one week. I would fully and completely immerse myself in my son, my fiance, and the magic I knew the mountains had in store for me. My plan was to decompress in the mountains. Prior to leaving, this seemed like a no-brainer. I make and sell soap. There are no soap emergencies. My email addresses, website, and all social media were set up to let the folks know that I was on vacation. Our book was on the cusp of publishing but I had in fact spent a large part of the 48 hours leading up to my leaving red-lining the long awaited hard copy proof that arrived on my doorstep 3 days before I had to go. Kismet and Kayla knew not to expect to hear from me and were 110% on board.
I am here to confess to you that I was shocked by how I actually felt upon the launch of the big disconnect. Disconnecting produced anxiety. A diffuse anxiety like I imagine an addict must feel when resisting the urge to use. I had a very hard time those first few days. So did my son. As we reached mountain valleys and peaks and there was no cell signal, we were left to connect with each other rather than social media accounts. We looked at the world through our eyes, rather than a lens. John told me this morning that something happened to him in the mountains, that he has returned home with a deep sence of peace and joy that he has not been feeling as of lately. He did not identify the disconnect as the reason, but I sure do.
By day 5 of 7 I knew that when I returned home things were going to be different. I would retain the connection I felt to myself and my surroundings up on the mountain, and I would extend that connection out into the world. I will be calling instead of texting, perhaps just to say hello. I am going to write letters and thank-you notes. I am going to resume reading books at night before bed. I am getting off of Pinterest and Periscope and will instead write blogs and I will not care that no one reads them. I will write for the joy of writing. I will be disconnecting ... and reconnecting.