Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

What I Found While Unplugged

Sky Paradise #1 by Cuatrok77 on Flickr

I participated in the National Day of Unplugging.  As I wrote in an earlier post, my plan was not to unplug completely from the digital world, but to unplug from work.  For me, that meant no blogging, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn as they relate to writing, my current career.  I reserved the right to remain connected to the digital world for “personal use.”  A very illuminating day.

 I became obsessed with my electronics in the early morning. I thought about them all the time as I was getting ready to go out for the day.   Anyone with a psychology degree please feel free to chip in here.  Here is my interpretation: because I was focusing on being unplugged, that is what I thought about.  Digital contributions: Weather.com to tell me it was raining outside, and Google Maps on my iPhone to help me get to …

…my unusual destination.  This Saturday, by coincidence, I had volunteered with a group to attend the morning service at a Jewish retirement community.  I hadn’t been to services in years.  It was surprisingly restful.  Participating in the familiar rituals helped clear my mind.  I stopped thinking about electronics, and more importantly, I stopped wondering what I would write in my post about the day.  For me, I wanted to unplug from work, and the service helped me do that.  Digital contribution: none

I connected with a resident during the service.  I walked into a chapel with rows of wheelchairs, interspersed with single empty seats.  And the woman I sat next to didn’t respond when I said hello.  I must admit it –  I was a bit apprehensive.  A few minutes earlier, I learned that many residents missed their pets so I decided to show her pictures of my cats on my iPhone.  She lit up like a Christmas tree.  Later, I learned that she was born in Russia, and doesn’t speak English.  I was very happy I took a measured approach to unplugging.  Digital contribution: pictures on the iPhone.

The Big Moment came at halftime of the Syracuse  Ohio State game.  At a time when I normally would have been on Facebook, I walked into the kitchen and talked to my wife while she cooked dinner.  I told her the latest news from our friends.  We chatted and it was wonderful.  I think it was special because there was no agenda.  I didn’t need her to do something, and she didn’t need anything from me.  Usually when we talk, it’s about her work, or my work. Or, it’s something that needs to be shared about the kids or the bills or the household.  This was just for fun, and it was wonderful.

It was a completely ordinary but irreplaceable moment that never would have happened had I not unplugged.

Did you unplug?    Tell me about your day, even if you stayed plugged in. Comment below, or confidentially here.