pumping the brakes + disconnecting
today i want to talk about something that seems to be one of those things that we’re constantly reading and talking about, but not necessarily following through on. we see it everywhere… the idea of pumping the brakes, slowing down, and really enjoying life and living in the moment… but how often are we doing this?
it seems like we are constantly in a rush… a rush to get to the next task, the next event, the next day of the week, the next promotion, the next relationship, the next vacation… and we distract ourselves in those “in between” moments, often with things that don’t bring any real value to our lives, such as social media or television. and we’re doing this so much that we’re often missing some pretty important stuff along the way. [and listen, i enjoy social media and a good binge watch on netflix as much as the next person, but hear me out.]
a few weeks ago, i spent the weekend camping in joshua tree national park [i plan on blogging about this trip and my new obsession with camping soon, so stay tuned]. it was a group trip for a friend’s birthday, and i was going into it only knowing a few of the people who were going to be there. committing to a camping trip in a place you’ve never been with a bunch of people you don’t really know can be a little intimidating… factor in that you’re pretty far away from home and there is no cell phone service [aka no escape from moments where you maybe feel awkward or left out]… and yea, you could definitely say that i wasn’t sure how it would all pan out.
for those of you who aren’t familiar with joshua tree, it’s one of the national parks out here in socal, about 150 miles east of l.a. in the middle of the desert. the little towns that surround the park are exactly how you would imagine desert town to be, and within minutes of driving into the park, you find yourself in a dead zone.
the idea of being in a dead zone, without wifi or at least cell phone service for even a couple minutes freaks people out [remember those verizon commercials from years ago?]… let alone a whole weekend? forget it.
so, in the spirit of making a long story short: i went to joshua tree, disconnected from my day to day life for two days with a group of people i barely knew… and had one of the best weekends i’ve had in a while. i mean, look at this place!
we’re living in a world where being connected constantly is the expectation. cell phone service is one thing, but even having a wifi connection at places like the grocery store, bars and restaurants, or in a public park has become commonplace. and we all know that we’re spending wayyyyyyy too much time with our phones in our hands, mindlessly scrolling our social media feeds, and checking to see who has/hasn’t texted us… i mean, for crying out loud, we don’t even use our phones to actually talk to people anymore.
being in the middle of the desert without any kind of connection to the outside world was so refreshing. every single person on the trip was completely unreachable, which allowed us to interact and connect with one another the way human beings were meant to: with face to face conversation that isn’t being constantly interrupted by buzzing phones letting you know that someone, somewhere has sent you a message that is so trivial it can be said via text message instead of an actual phone call.
it was nice to look at my phone, see that there was less than 10% battery left and not have an anxiety attack about needing to charge it.
on top of all of this, i also noticed that i was rarely checking the time throughout the weekend. when you spend your days in front of a computer/phone screen, checking the time constantly becomes a habit. so, when you know that it’s impossible to have received a text or a facebook notification, you check your phone much less [if at all] and suddenly, time doesn’t matter anymore. you’re living in the moment, not fast-forwarding through it. you’re moving with the universe and the people you’re with in realtime… at a pace much slower than what you’re used to… and wow, does it feel good.
at the end of the weekend, i felt so rejuvenated and relaxed [even after a saturday night spent drinking pretty heavily… i mean, after all, there are some things i’m just not willing to get away from!] that the idea of heading back to the real world and getting reconnected actually made me a little sad, and i felt as if i was leaving a piece of myself behind in the desert [okay, yea, i know that’s cheesy a.f. but whatever, it’s true].
so, do you see the point i’m trying to make? whether you’re spending your weekends in dead zones, switching your phone to airplane mode for a few hours each day, or establishing a “no phones at dinner” rule [except to take food pictures, obviously], disconnecting from technology and slowing down is not only a good idea, it’s so important.
important for our relationships [all of them, with others and ourselves]… important for our sanity… and important for our self-worth and personal growth.
when we’re disconnected, we have no choice but to focus on what’s right in front of us… getting to know the people we’re with, acknowledging our insecurities, confronting personal problems we might be facing, whatever. we automatically slow down and take things moment by moment for what they are, and we don’t distract ourselves from what’s most important with things that are so trivial, yet have somehow managed to become a priority over everything else.
we also can’t engage in activities that make us feel sh*tty, such as comparing ourselves to the people on our instagram feeds who seem to have it all together [remember, it’s all a matter of perspective]. it’s pretty effing liberating.
so, i challenge you to come up with a way you can disconnected this week. for a society that lives and breathes in the digital space, disconnecting sounds terrifying… but in all honesty, you might be surprised by how much you enjoy going off the grid. even if it’s only for one hour, it’s something, and something is better than nothing. start small and see where it takes you. it’s always has been [and always will be] about those baby steps!
need a starting place? i wrote this post a looooongggg time ago about ditching your digital addiction… i’m still working on applying these tricks and staying consistent with them each day. it’s alway easier said than done, but getting started is the first step.
and personally, i’m committing to this 7-day smartphone detox, starting today. i want to make sure that i don’t lose sight of that feeling i had in joshua tree when i was completely disconnected, forced to the pump the breaks, and really just soak up the present moment.
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