A whole day without technology didn’t seem like an overwhelming task, given I’ve been disconnected from the Internet for the majority of each day, and I don’t receive too many texts on my Indian mobile number.
“Great,” I thought, grabbing my iPad to send a few notes over breakfast. And then it set in: no emailing over coffee and no Instagramming in the car, and if I wanted to get really ascetic about it, no photo-taking during my adventures and no e-reading. But I’m a middle path kind of girl, and the wonders of Rajasthan needed to be documented, so the camera got a free pass.
Here’s what I learned from the past 24 hours:
Constant connection often replaces reflection and introversion. By always being connected, many of my thoughts and ideas are skimmed to the surface level; I don’t give myself time to go deeper and reflect, or to really explore and immerse with something. One of the most important things I learned at my yoga retreat was to take time to practice savasana (or rest) at the end of practice to soak in the benefits. I often don’t soak in experiences in my daily life; I quickly translate them into a photo, blog post or text.
Technology can be a grown up’s baby blanket. Without my trusty iPhone in hand, I couldn’t allay awkward silences with a quick thumb scroll. That meant that I was open to conversation with everyone from children on the street to my waiter in an empty restaurant. What ensued were lovely conversations, a few awkward silences, and even a suggestion from my waiter that he would present me with a few potential suitors for marriage on my next trip to India. Brilliant.
It’s harder to type from the heart. As I sat in the car, no iPad in hand, I started to scribble in my retro blue notebook. Pictures, questions, words, notes. Half baked thought-lets. Random and haphazard. Notes upon other notes. Old feelings. New ideas. New questions. New plans. It’s hard to see connections between different thoughts or doodle and scribble into a random stroke of genius when working in digital rows and boxes. Typing makes me feel like I have to create a finished, purposeful “something”… but often those “somethings” come from chicken-scratched nothings that are much more intuitively generated and connected.
I missed my technology. In a world where every experience is new, from the bed I wake up in to the flavors I eat, and the language I hear and use, I crave the comfort of a text from my mom, a comment from a friend, or a status update from someone I’ve known since age five. But at the same time, constant connection to another place makes each present experience less saturated and rich. I really experienced my meals, immersed into new people and places, and felt where I was when I let go of my glowing, vibrating and flashing devices.
There’s a balance, of course, and a lot of it comes from breaking some bad habits. Here’s what my middle iPath might look like: me before “e-“, in which meditation and morning me-time happen before e-mail (or I easily get set off into a world of exciting of joke chains or irrelevant flash sales); meal time stays as it would have in ancient times (I think about the lovely lady above, and how she might have approached the dinner table… no blinking BlackBerries for sure!); and scroll with a single purpose to email, create, or learn one page at a time, to remedy the inevitable link-vortex, which can lead to long strolls in some pretty odd YouTube neighborhoods.
Now no one’s perfect, and even during meditation, sometimes cool things happen that need to be documented, but this experience helped me to see how easy it is to get sucked into social media and sucked out of the present in really subtle ways. Thanks for the great challenge, Margot!