Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Sunday at a Time

Written by Stephen

It’s not a lifetime commitment. You don’t have to go on the wagon, or take the pledge, or go to treatment. I’m simply asking you to, once a week, turn it off. The endless email, texting, tweeting, jabbering white noise that beckons 24/7. Whatever your drug of choice--smart phone, TV, laptop, ipad, gameboy, PS3--just take a day off and see what happens. 

It’s not particularly hard. There’s a little switch that turns them off. It’s usually on the side, or on the back. So take a deep breath, have a little cry if you need to, and turn it off. Then walk away. 

You don’t have to go far. Across the room will work. Stay where you can see it, but resist the temptation to go back and check on it. Keep breathing. It will all be okay. 

Now some strange things are gonna happen. First, it will probably talk to you. “Come back,” it will say. “Somebody might be trying to reach you. You might miss out on something!” It is VERY important that you not listen to this voice. It will lose its power if you just sit quietly. 

Next, you may wonder what to do. And the answer is…anything you wish. Take a walk. Take a nap. Read a book. Read a book to your kid. Play chess. Walk outside and drink in some sunshine. Pet your dog.   

Don’t be surprised if you feel antsy, jittery, or confused. Keep breathing. Tell yourself it’s just for a day, just twenty-four short hours. You can do anything for one day. Right? 

Now I won’t lie to you. It won’t be easy. You might have a slip. You may be outside gardening happily when an overwhelming urge comes over you to run inside, turn your phone back on and check your email. That’s okay. Just turn it off again and return to what you were doing. It will get easier. 

You may even find, as I do, that I look forward to it. I now tell friends, colleagues and family that I “unplug” for a day. That I will return to the regularly scheduled programming Monday morning. They don’t mind. Really. And honestly, it feels pretty nice to take a day off a week. 

It feels a little like cheating, but in a good way. For one whole day I am blissfully ignorant and free to have my own thoughts, in my own time, and not react or respond to anything beyond the very small and intimate circle that is me. 

And, as my iphone does talk to me, I have taken to putting it in a drawer, in the basement, in a dark room with the light turned off and the door closed. Sure, I know it’s there, but I also know it’s okay, and it will still be there tomorrow. I turn it off, give it a little pat pat, and close the drawer. It’s like putting my kid to bed. 

So if you think you might have a small technology problem, a habit that’s getting in the way of a rich, fulfilling life, give it a whirl. You don’t even have to do it for a whole day at first. Try it for an hour. Two hours. See how it feels. I dare you. I double-dare you. 

Just remember, it’s only one Sunday at a time.

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