I stayed home from the land this weekend to make a few final tweaks to the website. I’d been busy finalizing new products for the collaborative artists’ space to go live on the 1st. Saturday morning, an especially squirmy dog caused me to stir while darkness still veiled the window. I rolled over and looked at my phone: 5:00. I rolled my eyes, annoyed at the dog for waking me because it inevitably meant I’d stumble my way to the bathroom next. I laid back down but any attempts to sleep were thwarted by both my excitement for the launch and my clogged sinuses. I find it nearly impossible to sleep when I can’t breathe through my nose. Resistance was futile, it was time to start my day.
In hindsight, a visit to the country may have been just what I needed. I’ve been busier than ever keeping guinea pigs across the nation fed while using every spare minute to learn web technology. I’ve always worked from home but these days my sales job, which I’m beyond grateful for, is completely online. The quarterly business meetings I always looked forward to as a way to foster connections and strengthen relationships have halted. Hours previously spent trekking across airports, trade show floors and the occasional coastal beach are now spent staring at initials in place of human faces. Tack on the fact that I’ve chosen to create a digitally based community and my screen time has skyrocketed.
Yesterday, after all the right buttons were pushed and emails sent, I attempted to put away the devices. I found, however, that nothing I proceeded to do was without a technological stamp on it. I called my parents on the phone, a welcome visit but missing the heft of a receiver in my hand. I streamed a yoga class through my Chromebook. While beautiful and empowering, it lacked the energy shared by a room full of people. I binge-watched Queer Eye makeovers on Netflix. Aside from my jaunt to Target for a decongestant and a few frivolous items (I did say Target), I once again managed to rack up screen time on a day when I so desperately wanted to unplug.
Today, I woke up with a major case of cabin fever. I grabbed a book and headed outside to sit on the swings, leaving my phone, admittedly almost never out of reach, inside. I got lost in the tale of a young woman’s undocumented life at the base of an Idaho mountain, her family dominated by their doomsday prepper father. It took on a whole new meaning every time I went inside for something. My husband remained glued to a series of Youtube conspiracy theory videos. While he claims they were far-fetched, I couldn’t help but wonder if each turn of the page gave me a glimpse into my future?
My reading was interrupted only by the occasional chicken squawking. I looked up to see what the fuss was about and it was rarely much more than a look-at-me posturing and flap of the wings. One particular squabble started over whose turn it was in the nesting box. There are two available, but it’s common to see a head butted up against a fluffy backside as two hens vie for the same one. A third hen couldn’t be bothered because she had discovered some tasty morsels at the base of the cactus. I was just relieved she didn’t find the cactus itself tasty. They have shredded more than one. I paused as the breeze picked up, briefly closing my eyes to tune in to the feel of it, and then stuck my head back in my book.
Because I’ve stayed busy, I somehow thought I was immune to pandemic fatigue. Instead it reared its ugly head this week in the form of beach envy. Many friends took last minute roads trips to finish out their summers and it was only by peering at images on a screen that I could take myself back to my last Carlsbad sunset or my walk along the Atlantic shoreline. I didn’t realize how much those offline experiences lifted my spirits. Completely unplugging today meant a vacation in my own backyard. The breeze rustling the dog’s fur, the curiosity of the hens, the images forged in my mind from words on a page. I’m sure the time will come soon enough when I’m lamenting my “fifth trip in six weeks”, but I hope I’ll take real life for granted less and I hope I’ll always know how to find my way back to basic.
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you." ~Anne Lamott