A few months ago I wrote about my screen dilemma on vacation. This year I’m going to make more of an effort to avoid screens during my family’s week away. I’m going to leave my computer at home.
Just writing those words feels scary. It was also scary to put myself down for vacation at the company I freelance for. Weeks passed as I went back and forth over whether or not to work during my vacation. On one hand, the money would be nice and I’d still have plenty of time to relax. But ultimately I decided that a vacation should be a clean break. Why drive 15 hours to get away from it all if I’m only going to bring it all with me?
This may be the most highly anticipated vacation of my life. With my husband, mother and other extended family members around to help care for and entertain my daughter, it will be the biggest break I’ve had since she was born. So I’ve got big plans and they have nothing to do with email.
First, I want to relax. Really and truly, lie in the hammock and on the beach relax. I want to meditate and be still. I want to take naps. Then I want to read. I want to share my breakfast with the newspaper, my lunch with a magazine. I’m going to bring a novel, a biography, and 2 poetry collections with me and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to finish one of them during the week. I also want to write. This is something I normally do on my laptop, but since I started freelance writing, I associate the computer more and more with work, not creativity. So this week I’ll go analog. Equipped with beautifully blank notebooks, pens and pencils, I’ll try to write a story from beginning to end. And some poems, too. All on paper.
My father has had a small business for nearly thirty years. When our family went on vacation, long before smartphones and wifi, he’d drive into town and check in with his office from a payphone. Now checking in is ubiquitous, even if you’re not getting paid for it. Sometimes I feel a twinge in my wrist from too much texting and scrolling. Throughout the day my thoughts gallop in a chronically stressful state of distraction, brainstorming, anticipation. Even when I’m working I’m not completely focused. I’m listening for my daughter to wake up or racing against the end of the babysitter’s shift.
That’s why this year I’m checking out. It’s only for a week, and if I really feel deprived I can drive to the public library and use their computers. Just like I used to do before I had a laptop or a smartphone, before the cabin had wifi. I’m excited to find out what’s possible if I disconnect from the internet and engage with myself, with nature, with the loved ones around me. Even if the week consists of little more than eating cheese and crackers on the deck, I’m more than fine with that.
Elizabeth Helen Spencer is a blogger for The First Day. She writes fiction, essays, and poetry and lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. Read more of her work at http://elizabeth-helen-spencer.com.
Read Elizabeth’s previous posts: http://firstdaypress.org/tag/elizabeth-helen-spencer/
Image: Keyboard 2 by John Ward via Flickr