I’ve now been ‘powering down’ daily for over a month. For one part of every day, I’m interweb-free. I feel alternatively uncomfortable and calm. I hate the feeling that I’m falling behind, that work is buzzing on around me and I’m not part of it. I can practically see the emails piling up in my inbox, all awaiting me. I wonder if I’m actually making more work for myself.
At the same time, my mind is more at rest. I don’t know any other way to put this. There are fewer needs scrambling it, clamoring for attention. And this feels foreign to me, and not at all natural. I love energy. I love activity. I’m used to having more than one task shooting across my brain at any given time. These tasks enter via email, or Hootsuite, or phone, and they bounce in my head until I’ve subdued them. Today, they’re not there. In their place is an itchy, unnerving knowledge that they’re gone, and I miss their presence, but there’s something else too. There’s a flat, silent calm. At any given time, I have only one task on which to focus, and it’s a simple, one-dimensional one: plan a reading lesson. Fill the coffee pot. Make a phone call. Let the dogs out. Let the dogs in. Draft a chapter. Massage a paragraph.
It’s not that these things are simplistic things. It’s just that there’s only one at a time.
I quickly realize how many times per day, per hour, per minute I glance down at the screen of my phone. Instead, I now glance up, at the sky, and notice the clouds. What a cliche! I glance over at my sons and take stock in what they’re doing: do they need help with their homework, do they look happy, do they need a haircut. I talk to them instead of ‘just a minute’ them.
I greet the dogs more. I notice the hum of the house more. I close my eyes more.
I’ve always said that technology makes our lives infinitely easier yet infinitely more complicated. And complicated isn’t easy. It’s not even a very impressive parlor trick; watching all those balls in the air makes everyone around me dizzy as well. As it turns out, there’s a subtle grace in doing less. It’s not as flashy, but there’s something beautiful about the the way it moves through the day, a new type of focus poised on tiptoe within it.