A Tech Free Weekend, or Why I Need To Relax

This past weekend, I went on a road trip to a place very different from where I'm living now, and what an experience it was.  I've done some limited traveling in the U.S., but mostly for work purposes, and never to truly immerse myself into another area's culture.  Usually, I had been too busy putting together spreadsheets, taking remote conference calls, and checking emails to see what was going on around me.

This time, though, is the first time I have taken a non-work related trip to an isolated, relatively tech-free area.

And let me tell you, it was very difficult... and eye-opening, too.

The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

The insanity began when I learned that I wouldn't have a GPS going down there.  Of course, I had never had problems with past road trips, where I was able to make do with maps, paper, and pencil alone.   Now, it's like I've become completely accustomed to having some sort of navigation system, whether it be the "pseudo-navi" built into the first-gen iPhone or a full blown system.

Alas, this was not to be.  Within hours of driving straight south, I was met with "1-bar-if-I'm-lucky" and certainly no measurable EDGE connection to speak of.  This resulted in taking over an hour to find a simple restaurant outside of our hotel; my stomach turning itself inside out.

We Get Signal?

My descent into madness continued when I discovered the hotel had what I'd like to call "Wi-Not."  Sure, I had a connection with my MacBook, but it was frustratingly slow, and watching web pages load was less interesting than watching my fingernails grow.

That's OK, I have my mobile broadband, right?  Epic fail.  No broadband signal... not one bar.  I broke out in a cold sweat as I gingerly closed my laptop... in shock.

As the little email demon on my shoulder whispered sweet nothings into my ear about organizing my inbox, the downward spiral trudged onward.  Could it get any worse?  Yes.

Can You Hear Me Now? ...no. 

During a beautiful summer afternoon, next to a pool, among the very gorgeous countryside, ALL I could think about were three things:  my laptop, my phone, and work.  My separation anxiety grew worse and worse. 

I got itchy and restless.  I resorted to "cellphone voodoo," waving my iPhone around like some sort of fanatic baton waving traffic director, crossing my fingers and whispering incantations in hopes for the little blue "E" to light up once again.  This was all happening in front of some very welcoming, friendly, and talkative people - who probably wondered why I was so insane.

Lessons I Have Learned

I've learned some things from this:

  • Don't take your tech for granted.  The constant availabilty of cell signal is a blessing.
  • Use your head once in a while.  The prevalence of GPS, for example, causes one to forget how to effectively use a map.
  • Your email can wait, or at least, it should.  Checking your email constantly on vacation makes it not a vacation.  I have yet to follow this rule, but the obsessive-compulsive side of me breaks it every time.
  • Relaxation is more difficult than you think.  It takes a conscious mental shift to adjust to relaxation.  I am used to doing 10 million things at once... it's hard to do only one or two.
  • That I'm completely nuts.  The thought actually occurred to me to do a Twitter post (from my phone) about how frustrated I was for not having cell signal.  I need help.


I am truly thankful for all that I have, and I enjoy surrounding myself with glorious, sweet gadgets and blazing fast Internet. 

That being said, I have a lot to learn when it comes to getting back to basics.

I hope that when I go on my big 2008 vacation (which is coming soon) that I will resist the primal urges associated with email, Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet.  I hope that I can willingly and totally accept the hospitality of those who live a more relaxed lifestyle, and try to emulate their peace of mind and friendly nature in my own life.  I hope that I can learn to balance the needs of a fast-paced, tech-oriented lifestyle and gain the ability to slow down or tune it out when needed.

I'm still going to bring the GPS, though.  You know, just in case.


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