Sometimes I miss the days when the most advanced technological gadget I owned was an Etch-a-sketch.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone. Where else can I send email, check Facebook, make nifty Instagram photos, scan Pinterest, read my favorite blogs, watch TED talks, and make sure that all the steaks come off the grill at precisely the same time regardless of my guests’ doneness preference — all on one device? Had you told me when I was twelve that such a device would be made available in my lifetime, I would have assumed that a rocket pack would also be hanging in my closet.
However. One downside of this whiz-bang gadget is this: it completely prevents me from ever being bored.
What once served as a nice way to make idle times more productive has completely eliminated the idle times from existence.
During the summers of my youth, my mother sometimes locked my bothers and me out of the house to keep us from spending our summer days in front of the TV playing video games. It seemed cruel and unusual to me at the time, but it was the best thing for us. It allowed our brains to breathe and imagine and grow.
As I write this, I am in Canada, with no network access for my phone. I feel like I’m roughing it, what with no GPS access or instant answers from my friend Google. It reminds me how much I’ve come to depend on this technology, and how it is too often like crack for my attention span. It makes quietness uncomfortable, if not intolerable. I’m practically fidgety when I am without it.
What I need is to be bored again.
What I need is for my Mom to lock me out of the house.
And so this coming weekend, I have decided it’s time for another digital sabbatical. No email. No internet. No iPhone.
Like a junkie going cold turkey, it will be hard at first. But it’s necessary.
So that creativity can percolate.
So that silent whispers can be heard.
So that first things stay first.
So that I may be truly present.
So that I don’t miss out on the amazing things that are happening right under my nose.
Won’t you join me? (If not this weekend, how ’bout next?)
P.S. What does it mean if you can’t?
[ Etch-a-Sketch. Acrylic and charcoal on newspaper. 10 x 7 inches. ]