Monday, August 9, 2010

Unplugged


I don't have anything against technology.  I like my computer, my blog, sending and receiving emails, and so on.  I don't find that they rule my life, and before this past month, I didn't even think that they subtracted in any way from my quality of life.

I was wrong about that.


I’ve been more or less unplugged since leaving Vermont and moving to Maryland.  But I didn't put my computer in a box on June 29th and vow not to touch it for six weeks.  To make such a vow I would have had to have felt burdened by my computer.  That was not the case.  I had nothing to prove, no hypothesis that life might be different in a good way if I left my computer in a box for a while. Yet, my computer has been in a box for a while.

I intended to plug myself right back in.  Then the swift current of relocation  - setting up house, exploring a new hometown, and reconnecting with local friends and family (not to mention my previously ever-absent husband) -  swept me away.  The computer landed in my new office, along with boxes and boxes of files, wires, and hardware.  I don’t go into my new office much.  Why should I?  I will not return to work until October and it’s currently full of all the stuff that doesn’t have an obvious home in the new house – lamps, chairs, pictures, paintings.  Plus, we had my old office furniture hauled to the dump before we moved, so there's no place to sit.  At the moment, my tush rests on a box.

The result of this surprising lack of interest in my computer has been a much more relaxed and present wife, mother, and friend.  OK, maybe the relaxed and present part is mostly about being on the longest summer vacation ever, but a little has to do with the fact that my computer hasn't been in my lap like it is now, not even for fun, since the day we moved.  I haven't been doing two things at once like I usually do.  You must know what I mean, -- working or emailing while watching TV, talking on the phone while cooking, texting while driving (just kidding about that last one, except that one time).
 
With the computer in a box, when I sit down to watch a movie with my husband, I just watch it.  When something funny happens we look at each other and laugh – together.  It’s a small thing, but it feels nice.  More typically, I would be watching the movie (or really just listening and only with one ear) while typing away on my computer.   He would be snoring, an inevitability given his sleep-deprived life over the last many years. 

As an extreme introvert, I can be selfish with myself.  My tendency will always be to turn inward.  I like solitude and solitary pastimes like reading, writing, hiking, and (I’ll admit it here) needlework.  Even cooking is a way for me to stew, marinade, or even braise (sorry) in my own internal world. I can’t fight this central aspect of my personality, but I can draw a line because too much introspection and solitude is selfish.   The people I love and who, by some miracle, love me back deserve more of my undivided attention.

But make no mistake.  This post is no gauntlet.  I am not challenging myself to give up my computer from now on.  In fact, I am excited to again feel the resistance of the keys under my fingertips and sink into some quiet reflection.  I do, however, hope that I can remember these past several weeks and the importance of being present for my family.

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