Here’s a question for you. Does being connected 24-7 make life easier or more complicated? On one hand, being able to get important messages via a smart phone when you’re out and about can come in handy. I missed an email recently from someone who was canceling a date with me. You see, I don’t have a smart phone, so when my friend sent me an email saying she couldn’t make it, I never got it.
It wasn’t a big deal really. We’d just planned to catch up over a glass of wine, and instead I sat and people watched. As I waited, it occurred to me that if I had a smart phone, I could have put those 30 minutes to good use. But to be honest, I get tired of being “on” all the time. As it is, I work at home and find myself sitting at the computer at all hours, answering, filing, and deleting emails. If I get a smart phone, I’m afraid the temptation to check email will take over my life.
Some people I know are always pulling out their phones and checking messages. Heads bent over, oblivious to the world around them, they process kilobytes of information all day long—and in the evenings, too, I bet. Personally, time spent away from my computer and the constant barrage of information is time I treasure. Taking a break from our jobs allows us time to be who we are.
I don’t know about you, but my work doesn’t define me. It’s a part of who I am, sure, and in fact, I do enjoy my job. Bringing you this magazine every month is challenging, but also rewarding—like giving birth 12 times a year. Sometimes the labor pains are a little worse than other times, but the thrill of seeing 20,000 copies of this magazine roll off the delivery truck each month makes it all worthwhile.
I enjoy lots of other things, too, particularly being out in nature: sitting by the sea with a magazine and hearing the gulls call, the waves crash, and the happy sounds of children playing. I love riding my bike on the boardwalk, stopping in a café for a drink or to hear a band play. I enjoy having friends and family over, grilling something tasty, and talking about what’s new in everyone’s lives.
But I’m very curious, and if I have a smart phone in my pocket or nearby and a little ping sounds to tell me a new email has arrived in my inbox, I know I will check it. Then my mind will shoot off in another direction, and I won’t be tuned in to my surroundings any more. I don’t want that.
Of course, I know you can turn off the ping sound or the entire phone for that matter. But most people don’t. Having a constant link to the Internet, to answers to random questions, to emails and updates from strangers doesn’t sound like a good way to maintain balance in my life. Too distracting.
The truth is we are receiving messages just about everywhere we venture: billboards on the highway, ads on the radio, even logos on t-shirts—not to mention ads in print, on the radio, on TV, and yes, even on smart phones. It can be overwhelming.
That’s why we need to escape sometimes. As Sherry Kulakowski writes in her column this month, communing with nature can help us slow down and tune in to our own natural rhythms. So get out to the beach or the woods this month and savor your surroundings. Another place to escape is an art museum or gallery, where you can let the beauty of art wash over you like a summer shower. Music offers another escape. This month you can hear outdoor concerts in a variety of venues playing everything from classical to bluegrass to the blues. And please, leave your smart phone at home.
See you outside!
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