"Not all who wander are lost."
"There's No Place Like Home"
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz
Sleeping on the porch - Refilling my empty nest - Schlepping around the country - Living out of a suitcase in my own house.
It all adds up to stepping away from LIFE AS USUAL. It brings into sharper focus the HABITS AND PRACTICES that are working and the HABITS AND PRACTICES that are not. The "I've Learned a Few Things" List Continues.
6.) Google Brain. I've got it, I admit it & it's time to do something about it. Nicholas Carr describes the condition well in his July/August 2008 essay in the Atlantic Monthly, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"
When you start getting good at scanning; when the task of reading a full essay in the Sunday New York Times Magazine seems way too time-consuming; when it seems impossible sit down & read a detailed book like Jeffrey Toobin's, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court; when your flitting from one hyperlink to the next, never lingering longer than 2 minutes on a page---You've got GOOGLE BRAIN.
Carr's description of himself, sounds like he's describing me:
My solution: Resist the magnetic lure of the computer. Let's face it, clicking from one site to the next is like eating an energy bar for breakfast, when you really should be eating a bowl of home-cooked oatmeal! For me, this means I need to find a quiet place--and just read--the printed page. Those wireless TV earphones my husband plans to purchase will definitely help in the "quiet" department.
When I find worthwhile articles or essays on the internet I just print them off so I can read them slowly, carefully, thoughtfully, without distraction. "Deep reading" on a computer screen? Forget about it!
We're creatures of habit, and resurrecting old habits (like "deep reading") requires practice. Scanning is good sometimes--when you're looking to separate the junk from the serious information--but watch out if that's all you're doing. You'll soon find out you haven't learned a thing.
7.) Laptop Addiction. I love my laptop, but it was getting out-of-control. It sits on top of my kitchen-family-room island, in the heart of my home. I start my day checking out my email & favorite sites. I end my day checking out my email & favorite sites.
Every single house guest we have had gravitates right to my laptop--asks if they can use it--and then they (like me) quickly get sucked in. The "net result" is unsatisfying conversations with friends & relatives who are typing away and talking at the same time.
I knew I was hooked when Son #2 and my husband, both big computer users themselves, started to say, "You're always on the computer!" I started to use it "on the sly" when my husband went out of the room, or my son went to take a shower. Yep, I was addicted!
When I read about Mark Bitman's own technology addiction in the March 2, 2008 New York Times, "I Need a Virtual Break. No, Really" I listened up. He knew he had gone too far when he was taking his laptop to bed and making long-distance calls on an airplane. It was time for "A Secular Sabbath" - "A Techno Holiday". Bitman describes how hard it was to break free. That twitchy, jumpiness we all get when the electricity goes out. We don't know what to do with ourselves:
On my first weekend last fall, I eagerly shut it all down on Friday night, then went to bed to read. (I chose Saturday because my rules include no television, and I had to watch the Giants on Sunday). I woke up nervous, eager for my laptop. That forbidden, I reached for the phone. No, not that either. Send a text message? No. I quickly realized that I was feeling the same way I do when the electricity goes out and, finding one appliance nonfunctional, I go immediately to the next. I was jumpy, twitchy, uneven.
I managed. I read the whole paper, without hyperlinks. I tried to let myself do nothing, which led to a long, MP3-free walk, a nap and some more reading, an actual novel. I drank herb tea (caffeine was not helpful) and stared out the window. I tried to allow myself to be less purposeful, not to care what was piling up in my personal cyberspace, and not to think about how busy I was going to be the next morning. I cooked, then went to bed, and read some more.
GRADUALLY, over this and the next couple of weekends — one of which stretched from Friday night until Monday morning, like the old days — I adapted.
This summer I finally had a chance to break free and experience my own Techno-Free Holiday! No computer access at my mother-in-law's. And I left my computer behind when we traveled to New York. I only brought it to St. Louis to get directions around town, and turned it off after that. Yes, I got twitchy & jumpy & was dying to log on, but I resisted. And the urge passed.
I started enjoying the computer-free life. It's still on my kitchen island, but I'm valiantly trying to dial back the online time. It can be a seductive time-waster if I'm not paying attention, and since I only have so much free time, I'm paying attention.
I haven't tried the Secular Sabbath at home yet, but it's sounding like a fantastic idea. Long walks, reading, no TV, no phone, no computer.
8.) When All Your Instincts Go On Alert Mode-Relax, Take a Deep Breath, Shut-up and Chill Out. It's in my genetic make-up. When it's time for calm quick-thinking my brain pumps up my adrenaline and makes me hyper-alert. Not a good thing.
Picture this: Two hayseeds driving through New York City, with 15 different highways, parkways, and bridges to navigate & the GPS quits. I've got the maps on my lap. I'm a good navigator, but hubby asks me to reprogram the GPS ASAP, just to be on the "safe side". That means I can't pay attention to the roads, the upcoming merges, the maps. All my instincts say this is a bad idea. My fingers start to fumble, my heart starts to race, but I say to myself, "Take a deep breath, relax. Calm down!" And it worked. I reprogrammed that darn GPS, hitched it up to windshield & it was all because I did it slowly and calmly. I've followed this advice through a torrential downpour, and while driving my nemesis, the "window-less cargo van". I think I'm on to something!