I have been mostly away from the networked world since late March, visiting with family, then completely disconnecting for a few days last week at Fairy Stone State Park in Stuart, Virginia. I did not make any particular commitment to this disconnect but without having to monitor work or students, I found it came naturally when I was with my family in Pennsylvania, preferring to be with them in the moment without the distraction of social media and news feeds.
Once we got to Fairy Stone, it was nature itself that imposed the disconnect. Internet at the park was almost nonexistent: they suggested one particular spot where you might be able to get to access but I did not feel compelled to seek it out. Meanwhile, my phone just displayed SOS instead of bars. I’m not sure if that’s because I could still get emergency access or because the phone was in crisis mode without it and wanted to let me know.
My husband and I both found the quiet liberating and restful. We rocked on the porch of our log cabin, reading, chatting and meditating on the spectacular scenery. We explored the area and I will have some stories to tell about those explorations in later posts. Here are two pictures of the cabin (one of eight in the park that were built by CCC workers in the 1930s) and the view from our porch.
We returned home to lots of gardening so my technological disconnect continued until this past Monday when, after nearly three weeks, I opened the lid of my laptop and reconnected to the larger world, digging into a database project and meeting online with a colleague. My phone and iPad had been sufficient for use during the travels, mostly using them for reading and picture taking and game play. (I do like a bit of Wordle.)
I know my life is very different from that of others now that I am mostly retired and that makes disconnecting much easier. But, I can highly recommend trying find at least a little respite from the constant connectivity. It helped me focus my intentions upon my return related to how I wanted to spend my time and treasure in the next few months. I even generated a few blog post ideas.
During our explorations of Patrick County, we might have been living in a pre-Internet era: at some points, I was navigating using a paper map! (Yes, they still make them.) When I picked one up at the Brunswick County Visitor Center, it was from a feeling of nostalgia. But when I couldn’t get to Google Maps on my phone at some points, the map became a necessary part of our travel toolkit. It is now tucked in the passenger side pocket of the Kia, ready for our next escape.
One of my last blog posts before disconnecting was about World Poetry Day. We are now well into National Poetry Month and I want to go back to Wendell Berry as his poem “The Peace of Wild Things” was very much with me and, as the world seems to spin out of control more chaotically every day, the words continue to echo in my mind: “When despair for the world grows in me…I come into the peace of wild things.”
Here is Berry reading the poem: