“Doing nothing means unplugging from the compulsion to always keep ourselves busy, the habit of shielding ourselves from certain feelings, the tension of trying to manipulate our experience before we even fully acknowledge what that experience is.” – Sharon Salzberg
We just arrived back home in Las Delicias, Costa Rica after 4 days at the beach in Uvita, A small town on the west coast of the country. Some friends from Charlotte were visiting for the week, which called for a more-rare-than-you-would-think-given-how-much-time-I-spend-in-Costa-Rica beach trip. We scored a killer Airbnb on a 5 hectare fruit farm tucked away in the mountains that rise only a few miles from the ocean. A main house, 2 smaller cabinas, a pool, walking trails, two rivers…perfect.
Until we found out there was no wifi.
Immediate response? Panic.
I own a construction company, a real estate business and an Airbnb rental business in Charlotte. All of which require me to be connected. Often more than I would like. Between the businesses, and liking social media as much as the next fella, I’m often accused of having my face in my phone too much.
So why couldn’t I take a few days to relax? There was a cozy Jamaican themed restaurant a short mountainous, muddy, river crossing, new car killing drive to the main road away. They had wifi. I could still check in a couple times a day if need be. And the businesses are set up so that I should not be the first contact.
Because more and more we are being wired to live and die by our devices. By being connected. All. The. Time.
It’s an epidemic.
According to a 2016 NIH study, DSM-5 Criteria for drug abuse disorders can be used effectively to identify cell phone addiction. Mobile addiction, therefore, can be defined as a psychological dependence on mobile devices whereby users exhibit symptoms similar to drug addiction. Often, these symptoms manifest and develop over the course of months and years, but may also manifest in shorter ‘binges’ (e.g when trying a new mobile game).
After the initial panic subsided, I decided to use this challenge as an opportunity. I needed unplug for a bit. I painted, took pictures, went for walks, read a new book (Lust for Life by Sylvester McNutt III – check it out) , swam, played card games, actually talked to eachother at length, and just listened to the sounds of the Costa Rican jungle around us.
And nothing burned to the ground. Nobody died.
If you’ve never visited Becoming Minimalist pop on over there. Great site with many good articles such as a recent post by Josh Becker called 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space. In the article Josh reflects, “Solitude grounds us to the world around us. It provides the stillness and quiet required to evaluate our lives and reflect on the message in our hearts. In a world where outside noise is coming quicker and louder than ever, the need for solitude becomes more apparent… and easier to overlook. True solitude and meditation will always require the intentional action of shutting off the noise and the screens.”
So how about a challenge? This year, intentionally plan a trip, or a weekend or even a long walk where you know you wont be able to connect. At least for a little while. You know you need it.