Related article: How to miss a childhood
I’m an “on the grid” kinda girl. I admit it. Twitter updates before 6 a.m. Facebook posts at least once a day. On the radio six days a week, listening when I’m not talking. Always reading and watching and listening. So, when I read this week about Nick Rosen, the award-winning documentary film maker, looking for people to film who are totally off the grid, it got me to thinking.
And the thinking got me to itching. I cannot even imagine being “off the grid,” away from information, disconnected from people. I suppose there are different levels of off the grid, but even the thought of unplugging scares me.
“I am addicted to certain on the grid activities,” author Marie Ricks admitted on “A Woman’s View.” “It’s the way that I function. I am a grid person, and my life is greatly improved because of it. But it does cause me conflict.”
Conflict. That sounds a little like guilt. Do I have any of that? Grid guilt?
“I can’t be without my cell phone in my line of work,” Lisa Walker, a certified athletic trainer, shared. Fear of losing your cell phone is the most common fear in the world. Some 66 percent of us feel some sort of anxiousness when we have to be away from our phones. And that’s not even the whole grid. “I will only purchase a cell phone I can back up to the computer,” Walker continues. “Not only could it be detrimental because of the personal information on the phone, but my life is in that phone.”
Is my life in my phone?
Last year, my youngest son accidentally wiped my calendar off my phone and I had not backed it up on my computer. The IT guys at work tried to recreate it, to pull it out of the ether, but to no avail. Somehow while playing Angry Birds, buttons were pushed, click click, and the calendar was gone. I looked at the weeks and months, empty of all appointments, and felt panic bordering on nausea. How would I know where to go? I would surely stand people up. Could I post something on Facebook saying what happened and hope that anyone who had an appointment with me would remind me of it?
I looked at little Aiden’s face. He could see my anxiety. “I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“It’s okay, Aiden. You didn’t mean to. But no more playing on Mommy’s phone, OK? It’s a work phone.”
“OK.” He patted me on the shoulder.
It’s just a phone.
“I remember getting on the bus after a football game and not being able to find my phone,” Walker recounted. “I had to tell them to stop the bus. I held up two buses of football players while I ran back to the field as fast as I could, looking everywhere for that phone. When I got back to the bus, they were holding the phone. It had been in my bag all the time. I felt so bad. The coach just said, ‘Let’s go.’”
“I think we need to go off the grid more than we do,” former Salt Lake mayor Deedee Corradini offered. We all paused. “We need to go off on the weekends. And I am equally guilty. We need to just shut it down and really get rested. I read an article about a woman who wrote about how she and her husband were going to take one day a week and just shut down the stimulus.”
What an idea. And that’s a hard thing for me to endorse, going off the grid, turning off the radio, shutting down the information. Information is my business. But I feel the truth in her encouragement. Spiritual teachers prompt us to “be in the present moment,” which it seems would be easier to do if our smart phones were not in our hands and our laptops not open and fired up. What if we were truly here, just us, with the people who are actually present, hearing them, tasting the food without responding to a text simultaneously, hearing the quail in the backyard while sitting on the back porch, talking with our spouses about life? Would the air smell differently? Would we notice its smell for the first time?
I’ve heard of media fasts, of the sensory cleansing that comes from just shutting down the information for a brief time and letting ourselves be truly present, preferably in nature. It’s a difficult concept for me because of my job and my love for what I do, but perhaps all the more important. This Saturday, I plan to take my dear friend Shela to Thanksgiving Gardens and just stroll, to leave our cell phones at home (or at least in the car), to smell the flowers in each of the magnificent gardens, to take in the paths and the sculpture and the color. We may walk arm in arm. We may sit for awhile in the Secret Garden or perhaps at the base of the Italian Garden with the sound of the water trickling down. We may talk, or we may sit in silence, but we will not take pictures for Facebook or Twitter. We will not post or update our presence there. It will be enough that we ARE there. Together. Enjoying the majesty. Enjoying the love we feel for each other.
We will go, if only temporarily, off the grid.
And I’m quite sure we will live to tell about it when we come back on.
Related article: How to miss a childhood