Some people call us a nomadic family. Our home is wherever we are together in the world. While our goal upon leaving our more traditional life in 2013 was to rely on technology less, lately, it hasn’t felt that way.
As we approach four years traveling, we notice old habits finding their way into our life on the road. We rely on devices every day to build our location independent businesses, download books, research core curriculum, plan travel, and stay in touch with loved ones.
While we relish the freedom technology has gifted us to live and work from anywhere in the world, recently we haven’t felt very free. We have slowly become less deliberate in our use of technology and therefore more distracted from the precious moments that make our life meaningful. We knew we were out of alignment when phrases like, I don’t have time for a walk, came from behind closed doors, and restless nights replaced peaceful slumber.
We needed to make a renewed commitment to looking up at the world around us. We had a family meeting and agreed to unplug all our devices for one week. We scheduled our communication to our customers and subscribers in advance, and thanks to modern technology, there was no interruption of service.
What We Learned
The following are unabridged excerpts from my journal for the week…
We agreed to lock everything that would fit into our hotel safe tonight at midnight. It seems a bit extreme but the kids are excited by the dramatic entrance into this experiment, so that’s the plan.
I am tired. I stayed on-line until the stroke of midnight. I felt like Cinderella running through the darkness to beat the deadline, as the clock struck twelve and everything changed. I was banking, editing, posting, and re-posting up to the very last second.
I spent all night thinking about everything I forgot to do before we unplugged. I couldn’t sleep. This feels like a waste of time. If I was online I could just get it done and move on. The little voice in my head that keeps saying, “you forgot to do one more thing, just one more thing” tells me there is something that matters here and I have to stick to the plan until it becomes clear.
Everyone is a little fidgety. I don’t really understand this behavior as I believed we were really conservative in our use of technology. Yet, when we cut it out, there is this background noise we are bumping into, each of us, at different times. Check the weather before we go to the beach—no, google where to buy swimsuits—no, check in with extended family—no, convert milliliters to cups, no.
What can we say yes to? And why do so many of our questions require devices for answers?
I feel so relaxed this morning. The quiet is getting more peaceful and less cavernous. Last night was one of the best nights we ever had as a family. We walked for hours on the beach, with no destination or plan. The kids made up games as we sauntered, laughed, and watched the sun dip. What would I usually be doing after dinner? Whatever it was, it can’t be better this. Nothing is better than this.
As the peace truly washes over me, I can feel the “shoulds” today. The voice in my head is saying—the game is over, time to get back to reality, like the rest of the world. Who do you think you are disconnecting when many other people don’t feel like they have that freedom? Maybe you were wrong. Maybe the world is coming to an end and you will be the last to know. Maybe that one opportunity you have been working toward, has come and gone while you were playing the alphabet game.
Then it all came together in one brief moment. I looked up, wide eyed, hoping to see a sign that I was on the right path. My children are on the swings. They are trying to touch the highest tree boughs with their toes. They are as relaxed as I have ever seen them, laughing, dreaming, and gaining momentum together.
I am leaving the “shoulds” for good in honor of their grace in this moment.
I feel a bit scared. I have heard people talk about digital detox. I never liked the term as it sounds so negative. Yet when I read over my journal entries from this past week, I see signs of addictive behavior, just one more, just another day, anxious, foggy, cranky, distracted. The fact that I felt the need to go cold turkey is an indicator I am not feeling completely in control of the device but rather the device is in control of me.
I don’t want to open the safe.
Plugging Back In
We reluctantly opened the safe and resumed using technology, but we are forever changed. We are no longer willing to compromise.
We are in charge of the off buttons and now we have an abundance of time to do what we love every day, with people we love, in places we love.
We still feel a little fearful when we log on. Perhaps we don’t completely trust our ability to walk away. Each time we turn off the power, we get stronger and feel excited anticipation about what is waiting for us when we walk out into the world, heads held high. Simple pleasures that are too precious to miss are waiting around every corner when we are unplugged and connected.
“There’s an old Irish saying: If you don’t use your power, it will leave you for someone who will.” — Frank Delaney
How will you wield this power you are given?
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