When you run a copywriting and marketing service-based business, you are dependent on the Internet like a scuba diver depends on the consistent flow of oxygen from their tank and regulator.
When there is a kink in the hose, your tank runs low, or your regulator doesn’t work right in scuba diving - it is noticeable.
In fact, you can experience a bit of panic as you try to figure out how to regain the constant flow of oxygen into your lungs.
Similarly, when you’re accustomed to connecting with your clients, friends, and family electronically, having access to the Internet becomes synonymous with breathing.
Using Work to Avoid Facing The Last Pilgrimage
When my husband and I drove to the mountains to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, I didn’t want to go.
I must confess that I mentally fought this journey every step of the way.
You see we were not just going to spend a family holiday together; we were going to pack up a lifetime of memories so the house could be sold.
The only real blessing I could see was that mom and dad were able to visit our family mountain home one more time. (Since we nearly lost dad many times over this past year, I did not take this moment-in-time for granted.)
The only way I resolved that I’d make it through this last pilgrimage was to pour myself into client project work and avoid facing reality.
But God had other plans...
The Reality of Living Without Connectivity
Upon arrival, I discovered that downed power lines and remote mountain access made connecting to the Internet and my cell phone nearly impossible.
If I leaned out over the porch deck while holding my cell phone high in the air and contorting my body in usual positions, I could possibly get a trickle of “Internet Juice” to maybe download the headings of emails and texts.
But that was all I could get. I couldn’t read what the emails or text messages said.
And this acrobatic twist of my body didn’t always work.
After spending 2.5 hours on the phone with Frontier - mom and dad’s WiFi provider - I learned that the only solution was for me to make the 15+ minute drive into “town” in the hopes of getting a stronger signal.
But even standing in the Walmart parking lot didn’t bear the fruit of connectivity my mind craved.
Finally, I "gave up the ghost" and realized that I had to live life for several days without connectivity.
Quality Time, Reclaiming Memories, and Voices from the Past
Without work that I could use to shield myself from facing the fact that this 20+ year chapter was coming to a close, I dove into spending quality time with my parents while sorting through and packing up the belongings of a lifetime.
This experience unleashed emotions deep inside me that I typically keep repressed.
I found myself randomly leaking (my term for crying) over the simplest of things.
As I went through pages of scrapbooks found in my great grandmother’s hope chest, I read her words that she wrote about going out on a date with my grandfather for the first time.
I uncovered hidden treasures where she recounted falling in love with him and wondering if he felt the same.
I found genealogy notes tracing my family back to 1792 in South Carolina.
I read letters my great-grandmother and grandmother wrote to me when I was a baby - telling me how much they loved me.
I uncovered - yet again - documentation about the long line of deep Christ followers in my family.
In my grandmother’s Bible, I found devotions she’d written as she expounded upon Bible verses that spoke to her.
The list of hidden treasures I found was immense and more than I can recount in one sitting.
As I found meaningful photos from long ago, I’d take them to where daddy sat and we went through them together one by one.
Laughter, tears, and questions about where a picture was taken or who the people were in historic photos generated many stories and much conversation between mom, dad, Robert, and me.
The time we had together was more than precious, and I do not take it for granted.
Thank goodness I did not have an Internet to connect to or WiFi to help me escape unpacking the past and moving forward to a new chapter in our family history.
Lessons from Unplugging Unexpectedly
Here are some takeaways you may want to consider doing:
I now see how important it is to focus on the special things in life that you cannot find online.
If you ever get the chance to experience life unplugged - I highly recommend it.
In fact, I think this is something I need to schedule time to do on a regular basis.