Learning To Unplug

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

I have been feeling a great urge to travel.  I’m thinking of distant and foreign places like, Nepal, Thailand, or Vietnam. 

I had those thoughts when my husband passed away.  I wanted to lock up the house and go someplace where no one knew me and I didn’t know anybody.  I wanted to take sometime to transition from where my life had been to what it was to become in the same way I had driven to Los Angeles from New York, rather than taking a plane, after leaving a long and sad marriage.  Sometimes taking time to transition is important. 

But I didn’t.  I plowed through my pain and threw myself into writing a book, releasing a film, and launching this website.  That was my way of coping.  Maybe it was a way for me to see I still had life, or a way to turn something sad into something beautiful, or my strong work ethics or most likely a combination of all those things.

In my fantasy of going to a far away place, I also fantasize about leaving my cell phone and computer behind and to live in the moment and not worry about things that are happening too far away for me to participate.

I have to confess that dropping out of my life, (the one in LA) even if for only two weeks, causes me a certain amount of anxiety.  I try to investigate this anxiety and I think it might come from thinking I’m going to be missing out on opportunities or a matter of wanting to be in control of everything, like things and people related to me would all go to shit without me.  How crazy is that?  Or a even scarier thought: What if the reason I am afraid of disconnecting is that I would find out that the world would continue to exist without me?  I heard the director Scott Hicks (Shine, The Boys Are Back), on NPR say that “nature is indifferent”.  What he meant was that life goes on with or without us.  If you have ever been through a tragedy in your life you come to grasp with that understanding very quickly.  You and you alone have fallen out of step with life; everything and everyone else continues to move forward.

So going back to my travel fantasy, I realize that doing the experiment of traveling alone leaving any strings attached for the time that I’m gone unattached, seems to be a difficult but necessary experience.  I say necessary because it challenges who I am and that’s a good thing.

As an aside I have to ask: what did we do before portable computers, cell phones and every other gadget out there existed? 

The Jewish religion has the Shabbat as a way to help people unplug.  Unplug from their work and anxieties by not doing any work and being forced to sit around with family and friends and talk and pray. 

I think a version of the Shabbat would be good for all of us on a weekly basis, if not for a whole day maybe for a half a day.  Imagine that; forced to unplug. As for me a version of a Shabbat would be great training for my future trip.  I’ll keep you posted.