Sorry for the long blogging absence – my partner and I went on a cruise through the Panama Canal and I’ve just now recovered.
Oh, the need for recuperation was not a result of the cruise itself. No flesh-eating viruses broke out onboard. And contrary to popular perception of what happens to me on cruise ships, I did not consume an entire seafood buffet and have to undergo mercury detox. (But really, wouldn’t it be worth it for 35 pounds of tuna sashimi?) Other than a bizarre vibration from the engines ten floors below that made the bed in our room feel like a Magic Fingers on crystal meth (which resulted in a swift room change and lots of delicious apology gifts from the cruise line), the trip was uneventful.
It was the return to reality that required medication and counseling.
You see, for the first time in years, I did not check email once during this vacation. (Okay, once, only to be sure that our house hadn’t burned down.) I did not check voicemail. We never turned on the news in our cabin. For all I knew, South Korea had nuked North Korea, unemployment had hit 90%, and terrorists had taken over the Mall of America and were forcing hostages to buy edible panties at Spencer’s Gifts.
Being the compulsive workaholic freak that I am, this is unheard of behavior. The ding of a new email or text message sends me flailing for the phone (conveniently velcroed to my liver) like a hamster getting electroshock. Being more than three feet away from the device causes tremors and hair loss. Last summer when we were in Northern Europe, I was checking email in Estonia, Russia, Finland, Germany and Sweden (where all the vodka makes obsessiveness particularly challenging).
But unplugging this way was glorious. It’s not that I don’t care about my fellow man, mind you. To the contrary, I obsess about the state of the world constantly. It’s just that being so plugged all the time in means you’re in a constant state of anxiety. And spending twelve days with no concern larger than whether to have two desserts at dinner is pure, unadulterated bliss. It’s something akin to paradise. I returned from this trip more refreshed than I’ve felt since Carter was president.
As such, I’ve decided to extend this communications blackout into my everyday life. I’m going to boycott the evening news. I plan to avoid USA Today. I will shun the Facebook friend feed.
These small changes will give me a chance to stop and smell the roses and taste the sweet nectar of a slower, simpler life. They’ll help me rediscover the joy of worrying only about today, and only about things I can personally impact. They’ll make me a calmer, happier, more peaceful person.
But I should probably start slow. Maybe I’ll wait until 6 a.m. to check my email.