Time to Unplug
We made the plans back in September, eager to escape with the entire family, which for us is already a major undertaking. Still, we picked a cabin in Pigeon Forge, received everyone’s thumbs up, and then booked it. We were set. Well, except for the packing and the twelve hour drive, that is. Still, in our minds we were there.
When I travel anywhere I usually take three bags just for my writing. It doesn’t matter that it might only be an overnight trip or that I won’t ever get a chance to open just one notebook. I always want to be prepared just in case I do get the chance. Of course, not everything fits in the bags, so I wrap the rest around me while we are traveling, even if I am the one driving. The girls say I’ve made myself a cocoon that acts as a security blanket. They are probably right. I haven’t gone totally digital, so I like having it all with me wherever I go. You should see our shopping trips.
However, this trip was about family and getting away from it all, about enjoying those around us and just relaxing. I cut the bags down to two. One of the kids wanted to take the Xbox, but the others quickly vetoed that idea. “We’re going to get away from technology. Not have it with us,” one of them said. I completely agreed with him as I was packing my laptop.
Okay, it’s true that I did take it with me, but I had honorable motives, I assure you. I wasn’t planning on working on it. Don’t look at my blog that way. I’m serious. You see, the last trip we took was to Virginia and we took almost 1,000 pictures a day. The laptop and external drive are taken along in order to dump the photos off the camera while we sleep so we can have a clean SD card the following day. This was a trip to relax and not work and other than taking notes on the trip for later writings, I kept my vow to relax. Writers are never truly on vacation.
The hardest part was to get the 8-year old to put down her iPod and stay away from the television. I’m not a fan of young kids having things like iPods and cell phones. They’re too young to know how to navigate the treacherous, predator-ridden waves of the internet. Even with parental supervision and control, there are no guarantees. Therefore, the 8-year old uses it to play games, such as Angry Birds. The problem is that she becomes so engrossed in the games she’s playing it’s hard to get her to look away from the screen. Television can be an obsession, as well, so that gets limited. This trip it was time to entertain herself and socialize with the rest of us. We had fun playing pool, sharing stories, and exploring the surrounding area and she wasn’t bored once.
Of course, with smart phones things like laptops and iPods are easily bypassed. Another vow had to be made or everyone would be cheating, including me. However, the people we talk with the most on our phones and through text were right there with us. There may have been an occasional Tweet or Facebook update, but for the most part the phones were used to communicate between traveling cars. It was wonderful to carry on conversations without the other person’s attention being averted by the ding of a phone. I hate talking with someone while their face is glued to a phone screen. It’s as frustrating as when I call my mom and she stops in the middle of a sentence to me to start talking to someone else in her home. At that point, I just smile to myself and say I have to go.
The weekend was a blast and it was amazing how well everyone got along. There was no fighting, no hurt feelings, and no one was shunned. That’s what I love about my family the most. They genuinely love each other. It wasn’t a fight to get them to unplug for the rest of the world, because they liked being with the people they were surrounded by. Not all families can say that and it’s a sad commentary of its members. I feel sorry for the family that misses out on the enjoyment of the people that make it up. We had so much fun we’re already looking into next year’s trip.
Give it a try. I dare you. Spend a weekend with your loved ones and leave the electronics at home or tucked away. Throw yourself into the people around you instead of the world that isn’t there. I promise, you’ll want to keep doing it.
* * * * *