I recently just got back from a week long vacation that was filled with skiing in Lake Tahoe and then playing golf in San Diego. My friend asked me to come along since his brother had a lacrosse tournament and he wanted a friend with him.
One thing was very different about this vacation in that I decided not to bring my computer. This is really unlike me. I have been known to be immersed by my computer spending countless hours staring at the screen, surfing the web, and not being present in the vacation itself. I decided before the trip that I would bring my Moleskine notebook along in order to write down ideas in my head as well as a list of things that I wanted to look up on the Internet when I got back.
Although I was really excited to vacation, I had two main worries. The first was how would I deal with my two friends and their dad being on the Internet? The second was that I was expecting an important e-mail during this time and wanted to make sure I would get it.
Along with these worries, I packed four books to read during the trip since I knew that there would be down time. Most of my reading while at school is academic or something quick like a magazine article. The books I brought were pleasure books, fairly easy-to-read but still worthwhile so as to get me away from the deep thinking that I tend to do when reading books on my own.
The reason for not bringing my computer was more of a personal detox from my computer before college starts up again for the semester. I had spent lots of time on it and just needed a break.
As I logged out of my e-mail and shut down my computer for the last time before the trip all I could think of was what will happen if I don’t check my e-mail? I then told myself, if it is really that important they would call you. With that I went to sleep and then promptly got up ready to go on the trip while leaving my computer behind.
I will say that I have to make a slight confession, I did bring my iPod touch thinking that if need be I could use that for Internet use and that it would be good to enjoy music on the four hour flight out to Lake Tahoe.
During the trip I wrote down a little bit about how the detox went so that I could write this post when I got back. I have to admit, I did slip up once on the second day in using my friend’s computer and checking my e-mail. The e-mail that I had been expecting still did not come but I then promptly logged off and decided not to worry about it at all for the rest the trip. I thought about the fact that no matter if they respond, the e-mail could wait until after the trip was done.
Instead of being attached to my computer, I spent my time skiing the slopes of Lake Tahoe, playing golf, enjoying the company of my friends, and reading. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I was not encapsulated by a device on a vacation in recent memory.
It is so refreshing not worrying about email and just taking time for myself rather than being caught up in all the social media and consumption that I was so used to. It felt so great not really caring about what is happening in the news or what is going on in other parts the world. Although I did read a newspaper for a few days, this was just to start off my morning as a replacement for surfing the web aimlessly. I also had my cell phone on me but I made sure that I was being mindful of not checking my phone very often.
I did log in to my email a second time specifically to send my mom two Internet links that she needed but did not check my e-mail. Although I felt very tempted to, I decided against it since I knew it would create stress for my day that I just did not want.
There are a few things that I would like to mention in reflecting back on the trip. As I said before I truly enjoyed the time away from my computer. It is something that I am hoping to continue when I go back to school. Maybe after my classes Friday I can not use my computer or otherwise the internet until Saturday morning.
It also gave me time to realize that I need some time to myself rather then being fixated on a screen. I think during this time when I am not using my computer I will be more reliant on my moleskin notebook in order to write down ideas and plan my thoughts that come into my head.
The real eye-opener of the trip was how aware I was and mindful of what was going on, outside, and the change in scenery. It was rather funny because I pulled out a book from my bag on the flight over and sitting across from me was my friend’s father who was reading on his tablet. When he saw my book, he jokingly remarked ” it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those, I can imagine opening pages and reading a book”. One of the advantages I found when reading was that I was able to read the book during takeoff and landing when everyone else was asked to turn off their electronic devices.
My two friends both would spend hours at a time stand at the screens of their iPhone’s were reading countless things. It was rather sad to see that there was a definite lull in conversation where they were entranced in their own devices rather than being present in interacting with me (who as to remind you came as a guest). The dad was on vacation from work and it was interesting to see that even though he was “on vacation” he was still answering e-mails from work while also spending lots of time on his tablet surfing the web and watching movies instead of being present.
On the car trips, I would look around and see all the sites to be seen rather than spending time on a device missing all the scenery. As for my friends, they missed out a lot by not being able to see the changing landscapes and beautiful areas. I cannot remember the last time that I had not been entranced in a device while on a road trip. It was really refreshing and something that I am longing to do again.
From the trip, it proved that I need time away from my devices. It was a wonderful experience not having to worry about my computer or email. When I came back from the trip and finally checked my email, I had 100 or so messages in my inbox and it took maybe a half hour to sort through and delete them. It was nice getting away from that prison of sorts. Separating myself from other people’s demands and incessant nagging and having time to myself versus thinking about what was waiting for me in my inbox was something I couldn’t put a value on. I only used my iPod touch once to look up a phone number I had saved the contacts. As for the books, I finished three out of the four I brought. This goes to show, I cannot wait for the next computer-less vacation!