So Friday at sunset marked the start of National Day of Unplugging, a 24-hour period in which our wired society is encouraged to unplug and recharge. Stop and smell the flowers, so to speak.
I love this idea. During my 13 days in Israel, one profound and memorable experience was observing Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) during which observant Jews abstain from labor of any kind. Even our hotel in Jerusalem featured one elevator designated specifically for Shabbat; it was programmed to automatically stop at every single floor so guests wouldn't have to go to the "work" of punching their floor's button.
That may sound a bit extreme, but the concept of Shabbat resonated with our group. We agreed with the advent of hand-held devices that fit in our pockets, we're now too plugged in and, as a result, tuned out. I have to confess while I'm sitting here, typing these very words, I'm simultaneously playing Words with Friends on my iPhone (nice play, Don). Okay busted, I'm checking email too. On two different accounts, no less.
Celebrating Shabbat made me realize that I don't know how to relax anymore. Be in the moment. When I'm not sitting at a desk in the office, I'm sitting at my desk at home writing columns, meeting deadlines, or I'm racing around doing errands: cleaning house, grocery shopping, paying bills, getting gas, doing laundry. Oh, which reminds me: excuse me one moment while I move my wet linen from the washing machine into the dryer.
Okay, I'm back.
I can't remember the last time I crashed on the couch in the middle of a Sunday afternoon with a book (and reading "The Accidental Creative" for my marketing job doesn't count). The last time I watched I Love Lucy reruns in the middle of the day. The last time I sat on my sunny balcony and enjoyed the stunning valley view without checking my iPhone.
The last time I did nothing.
Instead, every minute is accounted for. When it isn't, I find my head spinning and looking for the next chore to cross off my list: aren't there bills to pay? Tubs to scrub? Weeds to pull, statements to file or drawers to clean? I've become so wired to work that I've forgotten how to live any other way.
Given my career, maybe I can't totally unplug for 24 hours but I can take baby steps and, as I mentioned above, try to stop and smell the flowers. Maybe I'll do just that during the beach walk I'm taking this afternoon with Olivia and my good friend Sue and her greyhound, Stella.
And the phone will stay home. Well, in the car at least. Okay, in my pocket, but I won't take it out. More than once, anyway. Okay, twice max.
Like I said, babysteps.