Thursday, October 22, 2015

Learning to Unplug

A few weeks ago, I decided on a whim to take my daughter for a hike early Saturday morning. When we got down to the car and I had her all buckled into the car seat, I realized I'd left my phone upstairs in our 3rd floor condo. In that moment, I knew that if I unbuckled her and we went back up, we'd never make it out the door again, and decided to go without it. As I merged onto the freeway, the tendrils of panic began to tighten around my chest.

What if we broke down? What if got lost on the trail? What if my husband wakes up and doesn't know where we are at? What if, what if, WHAT IF the world ended right in the next hour.....

I told myself we'd go to Multnomah Falls because enough people were there if something were to happen, we could get help. As soon as we crossed over the Sandy river bridge, I pulled off the highway following the signs to Lewis and Clark State Park, a place I'd never been before, AKA not Multnomah Falls. I'd driven pass this park before and wondered where the trail went. Somehow that morning, I thought would be a good time to explore a new trail with a toddler without my PHONE!

There were a couple other cars parked in the lot so I knew we wouldn't be totally alone on the trail. After getting over my fears, we set off with water and snacks in my bag. Oh, what a beautiful morning it turned out to be. Hints of fall colors sprinkled the foliage around us as we climbed up the hill. We spotted birds, chipmunks, and squirrels. Boo loved all the different bugs we came across, including the spider, who's web I almost walked into.

As we climbed higher the trial became more rocky and narrow. We had to climb over boulders more and more until we reached half way up and I discovered why the path had become so rough. Shear cliff surfaces met us as trail leveled off. Boo instantly spotted metal loops in the rock above us. Soon we heard voices as we walked along and discovered a couple of young guys climbing with ropes. Boo's eyes lit up at the sight. "What are they doing, mama?" She asked.

I explained that they were rock-climbing and used ropes and other equipment to stay safe. You can guess what she wanted to do next, but I told her she needed to take lessons at the rock-climbing gym first before I could let her climb here. We eventually turned around and went back the way we came. In all we spent 1.5 hours out in nature hiking. We had so much fun and I kind of dreaded returning back home to technology. That part surprised me.

15 years ago, I didn't have a cell phone or a personal computer. There was no Facebook or Twitter. At my job, I used a computer to schedule appointments and register patients, but we still wrote chart notes by hand. I checked my email 2-3 times a week at the library.

Now, I work 40/week in front of a computer as all the work I do is electronic. On top of that, I spend about 16 hours/week working on my BS degree program which is purely online. Add to that 5-8 hours of writing, marketing, and personal finance use per week and I'm spending up to 62 hours in front of a computer screen if not more. This is not even including my smart phone time and social media. When did my life turn into a scene from a sci-fi flick?

I'd tried to limit my screen time as much as possible before bed-time but now with school, I've let my rules slack a bit. But this little hiking trip really nailed it for me. I NEED to unplug or I will loose my mind. That night I made 3 commitments: 1) to put my phone on airplane mode after 9 pm until I got up to work at 4 am, 2) turn my phone off when I'm out hiking or in nature, and 3) when I'm with friends the phone goes in the purse on silent.

Had my brought my phone with me that morning, I guarantee you anyone within a mile radius would have heard me shrieking as I tried to get the spider off my head because I was too busy taking an Instagram shot and not paying attention the web across the path.

Photo Credit: Jordan McQueen