Camping in the dunes, my kids and I read and sat and talked outside, ate by a fire, lazed in the sun, dove into waves, slept on the ground. We agreed on the important things: food, shoes, paths to hike, the distance from the site to pee. I watched my children, all at different points on the trail to adulthood. They sang and screamed and fought like kids, but like adults they collected wood, made fires, tied ropes, brewed coffee, hiked solo, read DH Lawrence, played Soduko.
Back home in real life, somewhat sated, I was surprised to feel a new and incredibly strong aversion to the electronically connected life, the life we all lead. My dislike was a deep and serious. Neurotic. Practically pathological. Easily I avoided the computer for days — which I’d never done before. At the mere thought of logging on I became anxious. I shed tears. I fantasized I could divide my life on the job (soon to restart) from my real, internal life. I dreaded the screen, commitments to people, the onerous attention required. I would not email friends, I would phone. I would not post “farewell” messages; perhaps online friends might even miss me. But I didn’t give a damn. It felt good.
Have you ever felt this way?
For 4 days I happily puttered along in my delusion, cleaning and cooking and generally taking care. But, as they say, life happens. I woke up Thursday knowing I could no longer indulge an offline dream. I was acting like a baby. Only the completely independent individual can afford the luxury of withdrawing from the electronic universe.
So I put on the coffee water, steeled myself, and waded into Gmail — where important messages were awaiting.
Obviously, I’m back. But I’m different now.