Friday, November 12, 2010
I took a technology retreat last weekend. L.L. Barkat over at The High Calling had a post a few weeks back about retreats from the online world, and I thought I would try it. I decided to limit myself to 30 minutes online on Saturday and 30 minutes on Sunday. And it was mostly successful – I was online less than 30 minutes Saturday and about 40 minutes on Sunday.
The net result: not much happened. I didn’t go into withdrawal. I didn’t become irritable. I included the BlackBerry in the retreat, and I only checked it a couple of times to make sure there was no crisis going on at work (there was, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it).
It was actually…easy. Far easier than I expected. There were some reasons why.
I had a ton of yard work to do. We had had a frost, and it was time for the tomato plants to be dug up, chopped up and deposited in the yard waste bags. An old (and large) rose bush needed to have a lot of dead wood cut away. Some raking was needed. The frost that had zapped the tomatoes had also blackened the zinnias and other annuals.
I read a lot. I reread several poems from David Wheeler’s Contingency Plans to finalize the review I had on my blog for Monday and the post at TweetSpeak Poetry for Tuesday. I continued to read Harold Bloom’s Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems. I waded through a pile of magazines that had been sitting and waiting – an eclectic group ranging from Bicycling and Fast Company to Oxford American, The Writer’s Chronicle and National Geographic.
I did a lot of writing – several poems, two blog posts, an article for the Christian Manifesto (to be published this coming week) and an outline of an article for The High Calling (which may be published next week or sometime later). Staying off the computer meant I was writing everything longhand, and I’ve found my writing is different when I do that. I even had some time to work on the novel-in-progress. Longhand.
Family wasn’t neglected, either. My wife and I went out to dinner on Friday, armed with a coupon for a free bottle of wine at a local Italian restaurant (we got a Merlot from Romania and it was good). On Sunday after church, we met my son, daughter-in-law and grandson (Cameron fix!) for lunch.
Monday morning arrived, and I was back in my online routine, at least until I got to work and had to deal with system glitches. For most people, system glitches are irritating and inconvenient. For an online communications team, system glitches bring everything to a halt. I ended up doing a lot of writing for various projects. Longhand again, but I could have used the computer. Things eventually got close to normal, or at least edged in that direction, but the net effect was an extension of my weekend.
So, my retreat from technology was rather quiet and uneventful. I had no grand spiritual revelations. My communing with nature was limited to chopping and gathering a lot of dead stuff in the garden (and fighting with thorns on that old rose bush). Things that needed to get done weren’t put off and got done. I got some exercise. I enjoyed the family (Cameron fix!) and watched a little college football on TV (LSU, my alma mater, upset Alabama).
It was good.
Top Photograph: Wagon Wheel by Kim Newberg via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.
Middle Photograph: View of the Mississippi River looking northeast toward Illinois, taken from Bellerive Park in south St. Louis. (Taken the week before so I didn’t cheat on the technology retreat.)