On a recent group trip to explore migratory birds along the Cape May fly-way in September, one member of our tour group pod stuck out from the rest of us. Most of us were carrying the usual array of birding paraphernalia: binoculars, scopes, water bottles, and even backpacks of camera equipment. One of us though was not like the other. He carried no backpack, no lens or binoculars of any sort. The real magic though, he didn’t carry a phone either. Almost the entire crew of our tour group practically did a double take. As if, wait, you mean you’re completely disconnected from the world?? I really wasn’t sure if the look on the people’s faces around me were a look of astonishment or admiration. Possibly, it was both. But it certainly got me thinking about what it would be like to go off grid, both figuratively and literally? He said he didn’t like to have it with him. Were it for the weight of it, or the burden of it, I wasn’t really sure. Here is a picture of me on that trip, with something I found at the locals shop…I didn’t buy it, but it was perfect! Note the heavy bag strap on my arm. Probably filled with birding and vacation paraphernalia. And gosh knows, what else.
I thought of this blog only just on a whim, as I was walking from my car to my daughter’s swim practice on a damp November night, temps teetering on the cusp of 38 to 32. Strapped to my back was my backpack that I seem to take with me a lot more places than usual in recent months. And in it, a laptop, its charger, a phone, and maybe even its charger and whatever else I need. Earbuds. Yes. My favorite digital accessory by far, and yet they always seem to be MIA. Some gum, my warm gloves, a water bottle, and some random pens. Maybe an emergency ration granola bar.
What makes it so that everything all of a sudden needs to be charged, plugged in, or docked? And in this world of wireless (even though I am carrying cords galore with me) we are constantly feeling drained, and for lack of better word, “out of batteries”?
It’s Because We Need to Unplug
What would it be like to go a whole hour, a whole day, or even 48 hours without checking email, a phone, or a Fitbit? I wonder. Could we survive? Could we make do with less? Less connectivity, less pings, less likes? I wonder. In fact, I almost always wonder about making do with less.*
The birds in my yard are a constant source of inspiration. Is it because of their antics? Or is it their proclivity for survival. If birds were a barometer of what to do with a day, then the lack of activity outside my windows on this gray day was a testimony that I should unplug, read, make tea. Maybe light a fire. And enjoy the quiet of the season. Because the birds must have been roosting all day, taking a rest. I saw nary a Blue Jay but once all day. Usually my yard is a bird version of Penn Station. Comings and goings, regulars, and a few new commuters whom I may never see again. But a barometer of the weather, the birds enlighten me what is coming, or what the day may bring.
Having to live with chargers strapped to my back, don’t get me wrong, is partly what makes this blog possible. Because I am able to write where I am. (Truth be told, I wish I could write all the time, but there are only so many hours in a day). Whether I am away from home, or right at home in the kitchen, writing makes my day. But sometimes I have to remind myself….the world will go on no matter if I check my phone 42 times a day. Or 4 times in a weekend. (Though I do realize, the blog won’t write itself!) Hence, the backpack.
That said….while I love that you made it this far in my blog…because I know sometimes that they do get a little wordy… Take a moment. Unplug. Step outside. Without your phone, and open your senses to the sounds, feels, and beauty that may be just right in front of you. See a falling star. Hear an owl. Hear nothing. The beauty of quiet. Breathe. When I stepped outside to watch the seed heads of a butterfly weed move around in the breeze this afternoon, it was probably the most therapeutic part of my day.
Take it even a step further. Once the sun goes down, and the dishes are put away of course (don’t want to wake up to a sink full of work). Figuratively unplug the lights, and light a bunch of candles. Pretend there’s a nasty storm that blew out the power. Grab the warmest blankey you can find, and enjoy the quiet of the night and sleep like there’s no tomorrow.
The Power of the Unplugged World
Your phone, no doubt. And your several other plugged in devices will no doubt be charged to 100 percent. And so will you. Now, if I could only find those ear buds…I could start the next day completely recharged. I really use the ear buds most for music and such, but they really have a way of disappearing!
The beaches at Cape May tell the stories of a thousand footprints. And a thousand other things. And it’s beautiful. Batteries, chargers, docks, and electricity not required.
What device do you always seem to misplace or not have enough ‘juice’ in. Let me know in the comments below! PS, as of this publishing, my Pixel earbuds are still missing. Somewhere. Oh, and unplugged no doubt. But that is okay… I can be more in tune with the white-throated sparrows that way, and less with the Taylor Swifts.
*In my never-evending quest to live and be with less, I adopted a new challenge recently of Project 333. I may have to let you know how it is going. I am in day 3 so far. More to come on that front soon.