There is something freeing and unsettling about disconnecting. Once you get past the anxiety of having no contact to the outside world, a sense of peace sets in.
When you have no option to refresh your feed or take a call for days, your mind goes to a place that’s easy to forget exists.
Our days in Yosemite consisted of gathering wood, preparing food, hiking and exploring, and simply talking to each other.
The many photos and videos that were taken sat safely in an album, with no rush to post to Instagram. They would be there when the trip was over.
There was really no option but to be present, and I think in a world where technology is always available, we struggle to find the necessary discipline to turn it off and let our brains have a rest or actually be with people and our environment.
I slept in my tent without the rain cover, so every night, rather than staring a glowing screen, I fell asleep gazing at stars through the trees that towered above me.
When I woke up under the same trees and open sky, rather than checking the news, email or Instagram, my primary focus was getting a fire started, water filtered, and coffee made.
No rush to a morning meeting or appointment, no photo or video to watch and like, just sitting in isolation, in awe of my surroundings and the fellowship of those I was with.
On our drive back from camping we stopped to eat in the first small town that had good food options. I happened to notice the couple sitting next to us.
Both were engrossed in what was on their phone. It didn’t occur to me until ten minutes later that they were both still silently locked into whatever was happening on their individual devices.
In that moment, it made me really sad. Maybe the isolation and forced presence just hadn’t worn off yet, and my senses were heightened to seeing those issues. Either way, it really bugged me.
I think I even made the offhanded comment of, “One day they’re going to wake up and wonder why they’re not interested in each other anymore.” Probably a little harsh, but you get the point.
I wanted to shake them and say, “Look at the human being in front of you! Look outside at the world around you. What you’re looking for in that glowing screen you’ll never find, and in the meantime you’ll lose what’s real that’s around you now.”
Not even a week later, I find myself slipping back into old habits, not being fully present, scrolling through apps, as if the answer to some question is waiting to be discovered.
So I’ll force back the discipline. We are headed to the lake for the day, where there is no cell service. After the unease of not being able to use my phone passes, the peace from being present will return.