Shedding Technology

When I was in college I used to do a thing that I called “Tech Free Tuesday”.  I always tried to get people to do it with me, but it was a surprisingly tough sell.

Regardless, every Wednesday night I would turn off my phone and computer and hide them both in a drawer for the next 24 hours.

On my tech-free days I would read, spend time outside, and hang out with anyone who was okay with keeping their screens hidden for as long as we hung out.  I wouldn’t watch movies or television or listen to music.

So it was just me.  Me in the quiet of nature.  Me in the hustle of downtown Chicago, people streaming past me with devices peeking out of their back pockets.  Me on the floor of my room, paintbrush in hand.  Me, baking in the baking. Me, biting into a sandwich at a distraction-free lunch.  Just me.

And the quiet could be overwhelming.

That’s the twisted irony of our devices.  They connect us to so many people that, though on the outside we might seem solitary, in reality we are consumed by the voices of thousands of other people.

The overwhelming nature of the quiet was always exactly what I needed to recenter.

As I’ve grown older, I find that it’s harder to do my tech-free days. I want them just as much as I always have, but I have to be on call and ever-quasi-present online for my work.  Ducking off of social media for 24 hours and not checking emails or texts for 24 hours loses me jobs and annoys people who work with me.

And yet sometimes shit gets heavy and you just need to drop it all for a while.

The other day I deleted every social media themed app off of my phone.  I deactivated my Facebook, which was a pain in the butt because I got booted off of Spotify and Goodreads and probably a few other services that I was lazy about signing up for.

But it feels so good to be cut off from mindless scrolls down pages and the constant barrage of articles that I’m only really halfway interested in.

It feels so good to not be chasing digital versions of people that I shouldn’t be chasing.

It feels so good to have a little space from the masses who usually follow me (though it’s really me following them) everywhere I go.

Now I just need to make it super official, get a tent, and go sit in a forest somewhere for a year.

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And I am Writing

It is 1 pm on a Thursday and, according to the last 6 months of my life, I am not where I should be.

According to the last six months of my life I should be doing one of the following things:

1) Taking a rather pitiful lunch break, which would usually consist of me either reading a book over a plate of noodles or running up and down the stairs in an effort to cancel out the hours of sitting I had just suffered through.

Or:

2) Sitting at a desk for hours on end re-emailing or re-calling the same people about the same things I’d asked about the day, the week, the month before and typing their numerical answers into little boxes before saving their emails into digital folders as PDFs.

The work I did in those six months was uninspiring, it was mechanical, it was devoid of challenge, stimulation or social interaction of even the most minute depth. The excessive monotony of it took over other aspects of my life. The art that I like to do slipped through my fingers and I. Did. Nothing.

Two weeks and two days ago I told my boss that the work wasn’t right for me and that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. After two weeks worth of tying up loose ends I left.

And it was lovely.

We ate cupcakes in the office and I made a list of everyone who was currently ignoring me and what questions they were supposed to answer. We talked about how much we had enjoyed each other and I cleared all of the excess paper off of my desk. I clipped things neatly into binders so they could be easily managed and found by my successor. Tasks that usually would have frustrated me in their interminability were suddenly almost enjoyable because, though they would remain interminable, I wouldn’t be the one chasing gray scale rainbows anymore.

When I returned my keys the weight of six months worth of paychecks I appreciated for work that I did not was removed from my chest and I could breathe again.

So today did not begin with the usual screaming alarm at 6 am, followed by a joyless shower, standing breakfast and commute full of the usual jerkfaces cutting people off for no reason.

Instead, I woke up later than I am used to, read for an hour and took pictures of the boyfriend’s cats so he would know I was awake. I did yoga in his kitchen while listening to a Louis CK comedy hour and nibbling on breakfast. I went outside to a spring day, every bit as perfect as yesterday’s. The sun, the breeze, and the budding green accentuated both my relief for one chapter closed and my excitement for the beginning of the next.

And now I am sprawled out on a deck in the suburbs as the wind whips around me. The sun glares out of a perfectly blue sky.

And I am writing.

I am writing.

I am writing.