In college I went on a leadership retreat to a camp in the woods where we were told to “unplug” in order to connect to the experience around us.
I know a lot of people who really love this idea of getting out in nature, sleeping in the woods, and disconnecting from our ever connected world around us.
I am not one of those people. In fact, I really resented the idea of forced “unplugging.”
First of all, I don’t like the woods. Eating dinner on a rooftop patio in Los Angeles is “nature” enough for this girl. I’m not a hiking person. I’m not a bug person. I’m definitely not a sleep outside person.
I’m also not an “unplug” person. I enjoy the fact that we live in a society where I can be connected to my close friends and family through multiple means of communication (text, call, email, Instagram, FaceTime) via just one device. It brings me a lot of peace of mind to know that the people in my life I care about the most are just a call or text away.
But something happened last weekend that surprised me and taught me the Power of Powering Off.
Andrew and I have been taking a lot of road trips to California lately- we see my family and our friends and the beach for a few days. It’s always nice and relaxing and fun, but not really a “vacation.” Andrew and I had been talking about taking a real vacation for a while, but the timing just hadn’t panned out.
Then two weeks ago we stumbled across a few days in our schedules that were open for both of us to check out of real life for a bit and take a little trip. We booked a last minute cruise to Mexico and started packing our bags!
When we got on the ship I immediately started taking pictures and sending them to my parents and friends. We started to pull away from shore and I snapped a picture from the front of the boat, floating out into the sunset. As the shoreline got smaller and smaller, the bars in the upper left hand corner of my iPhone did too. And that’s when I remembered– no cell service!!
I thought it would be hard to kiss my constant connectedness goodbye. Instead, I found it surprisingly freeing.
I turned off my work cell phone completely and turned my personal cell on airplane mode (so I could still take pictures with it). Neither one of us had our laptops. All of a sudden we were free to roam and explore- no strings attached.
This led to a few fun things-
1) Freedom to Adventure
My only plan in Mexico was to eat a fish taco. Other than that- we were agenda free! We decided to try things we had never done before- hop on a city-tour, take a horse-back ride down the beach, and buy a fresh coconut from the fruit stand on the street. (And yes, I did eat the best fish and best shrimp taco on the planet)
2) Freedom to Connect
And not just with each other- we actually made new friends on the cruise. We ate with them, went to shows with them, danced and laughed with them. Who knows if we would have met them if had been “relaxing” by catching up on our news feeds.
3) Freedom to Dream
Andrew and I love to dream together, to talk about our futures and what we would like to do. But being free of the distractions of the outside world let us explore our hopes and plans for the next season of our lives on a deeper level. We left the trip more excited than ever to pursue our dreams together.
I had been wary of turning off my phone at the start of the trip, but I felt the exact opposite coming back. I had enjoyed my time away so much, I didn’t want to come back to reality. Phones, email, and social media are all part of our lives. I’m back in it all full swing (except for social media, which I’ve been a little slow getting back to) and I certainly don’t resent the constant connectedness. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to my next opportunity to get away, discover what adventures await, and experience the power of powering off.
So Tell Me:
1) What about you? Do you prefer to stay connected or to get away to unplug?
2) When was the last time you went more than a few hours without checking your phone (excluding sleep)? What happened during that time?
3) I’m taking suggestions for my next trip! Where should I go?
P.S. Want to see photos from my trip? Check out my Instagram. I’ll be posting periodically throughout the week.