“Just had an amazing week on my own in a studio cottage in the middle of woodland, without internet or mobile signal. Blissfully quiet except for the wind, the rain and the deer barking at night. Went out in my pyjamas to stare at the Milky Way. Spent days with my camera walking along empty beaches or in beautiful woodland. And evenings being ‘artist in residence’, painting or reading. Loved every single moment.”
I have been very drawn to this idea of going unplugged for a while now, ever since reading Susan Maushart’s book The Winter of Our Disconnect where she and her children (under duress) gave up all electronic gadgets for a whole Aussie winter.
And while I was away in the Cotswolds recently there was an article in The Times magazine by Robert Crampton entitled Can We Live Without Modern Technology? That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Can we? Should we? What would be the benefits, if any? Could I give up my digital addiction for even twenty four hours?
I notice I cannot even single task these days; not much engages me to do one thing and one thing alone. I am not impressed by this. I know it isn’t good for me and I know our addiction to our gadgets is bad for our health and our relationships. The relationship I am often most concerned about is my relationship with myself and look at Sara, without internet or phone signal, she was reconnecting with nature and the stars, beaches and woodland. It all sounds blissful, doesn’t it? And that’s even before you get into her slow hobbies of reading and painting and photography.
Slow hobbies are contemplative and they make the best of each moment. I often sit at my desk and admire the view of the sunshine on the garden but soon I am drawn back to my work, my writing and my clients. And generally that’s how I love it. But a writer doesn’t necessarily need the internet, not all the time at least, although she does for blogging. In future years, November might be a good month to go unplugged, to participate in NoNoWriMo, although I am not ready for that in 2013 but I don’t rule it out for 2014 or 2015. Exciting! Thirty days to write a book, although mine would not be a novel.
I really, really, really want to give this a go and I’m a bit frightened too. There’s a wonderful silent retreat I like the look of in Kent but am not sure how I’d get on not being able to talk although I’m not sure why that’s so frightening to a woman who spends so much time alone anyway and I’m not one of those who talks to herself so presumably no hardship? But imagine being alone with nothing electronic with which to amuse you and suddenly it begins to look altogether more challenging.
How long do you reckon you’d last? Could you do a week like Sara? What would be your optimal circumstances for going off grid for seven days, alone?
Check this out: How A Demon iPad Stole My Summer Vacation by Doyle McManus in the LA Times. She has my sympathy. I recognise myself in her article and despite the many blessings of always being connected, I would like to try unplugging in a seven day retreat and who knows, I may even make it a quarterly gig. Monthly, anyone?
And here’s where to unplug in luxury in Pioneertown, California. I love California and shall be blogging more about why in the course of the next few days.