October 21, 2016

Lessons I’ve Learned from (gasp!) Disconnecting.

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Some years ago, when my son was 6 years old, hecame to me and said the two words a mother detests to hear: “I’m bored.” 

I responded with the typical, “So use your imagination…”  The next words out of my son’s mouth changed my life forever—he said,“My imagination is boring.”

I thought about all the things I did as a child. Mud pies, creek walks, tree forts and pet frogs filled my head. I realized, as I looked out the front window, there wasn’t a tree to climb in sight. Between the corner store and the sidewalk, there was barely a patch of grass to roll around on—and if there was, I’m sure it had been peed on by every dog in a four-block radius.

That was it for me. We moved out of the city and into a giant country house, and ever since then, we have been getting less and less connected to our screens and more connected to other things—especially our hearts, each other, ourselves and the earth.

Fast forward a few years, and although the mountain views were inspiring, it wasn’t enough. I found myself rushing through gardening or a hike to get back to my smart phone, as if I was missing out on something. I soon realized it wasn’t just my children who needed to disconnect. So recently I took a deeper plunge—I fully dove into the life I had strived for when I left the city.

We completely disconnected.

I had anxiety, believe me—the first few days weren’t pretty. I rented an old farm house in the middle of the mountains, along a river, with my three home-schooled children, alone. Yes, you read that right—alone, with no connection to the outside world, no cell service, no internet service, no TV. We just have a simple house phone for local calls. (And like, who even has those anymore?)

Granted, I am only six weeks in, but I have to share the things I am learning from such an experience. I hope it may inspire others to try it for themselves, or even to simply make choices that seem unfamiliar or scary. I’ve come to discover how much we are truly connecting to important things when we disconnect from the technological age we are immersed in. The best and most astonishing part is I don’t hear the words, “I’m bored,” anymore.

Here are some things I’ve learned, and I can’t wait to learn more:

1. We will survive. Yes, this is actually a thing. I truly wondered what I would do without internet. Somehow, my face is still fresh. I can still smile. All bodily functions are normal. Eyes and arms are used for other things? I had no idea.

2. The house will always be clean. I am actually wondering how or (oh my god) if my house was ever clean before. Between checking Facebook and re-blogging Tumblr memes, I have no idea where I found the time to do housework. No wonder people never visited much.

3. Books don’t actually take a year—or even a month—to read. Yep, that’s right. I know it’s hard to believe, but alas, I finished four books in the first two weeks, without even trying. It’s strange to actually read the books on my shelf and not just have them for display. I think I may possibly be able to converse about intelligent things with real people, face to face (if that’s still a thing?) and not sit behind a screen talking about a Twitter battle I saw between some C-list celebrity and a trashy white dude who hates his mom.

4. We remember what we’re passionate about. Okay, so I was always pretty good at this one, but in all fairness, some days I had to really kick my own ass just to take a half-decent picture to post on my blog, because heaven forbid I hadn’t posted one in a week. It’s all coming easy to me—maybe it won’t last, but for now, I’m on a roll, and you’re not taking it from me. Oh, and the best part is, you realize creating things that no one will see is—yes, believe it or not—just as satisfying.

5. There is basically no way to procrastinate. I am in utter disbelief at the realization of what a procrastinating pile of garbage I’ve been. Okay, okay, that’s a little harsh—but really, this is how I felt when I realized how many projects have been dying for me to finish them. How some guy I dated in high school sister’s husband’s brother’s friend’s profile could be more interesting than projects that could potentially make me a small fortune is beyond me. I am enjoying finishing these projects so much, I’m not really sure why I was avoiding them in the first place—although I do think about what my ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s wife’s best friend’s puppy looks like all grown up now, from time to time. I’m sure I’ll survive though.

6. Nobody cares. This might be different for you, but it’s how I felt, and it was good for me to feel. The first time I connected to WiFi, after being gone for almost a week, I realized: no one noticed. How appalled my ego was; it was shaking it’s fists at the heavens and tantruming like a two-year-old in the candy aisle. However, my more rational, true self took a sigh of relief. I knew the world carrying on like I didn’t exist was good for me, I needed the break. I think we all could do for one from time to time. A good humbling experience does the ego good.

7. Intuition heightens. This has by far been the best part. I used to wake up and plan my day by what the weather app said. Now I get up and actually have to go outside and look at the sky, smell the air, feel the earth. I can’t believe I stopped doing this. I think most of us have or some never did. I feel connected—to myself, to others, to plants, animals, earth—to life. Was I ever alive before? Gosh, it almost doesn’t feel so.

All in all, I think we could all do with a disconnect, from time to time, to reconnect with other things. Who knows what you may find in the time you used to zone out on other people’s lives, when you focus on your own instead.



Author: Amy Makortoff

Image: Instagram @elephantjournal 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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