I ran away the other day.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling. A feeling of compulsion. Anxiousness. Impatience. Anger. Frustration. A feeling that I wish was unfamiliar to me, but lately has been descending more and more.
At first it confused me. I wasn’t sure where it came from or why.
I lay awake the other night. 3:00 in the morning and unable to sleep. The cars driving past on the freeway. Always, always driving past. Never silent. Never stopping. I thought I was used to those sounds, but in that late night moment of clarity, I heard them for what they were. And I recognized the source of this unfortunately familiar feeling for what it was.
It’s there like those cars on the freeway. Always, always there. Never silent. Never stopping. Post on instagram. Check the progress of your ad. Google this. Google that. Check the time. Text this person. Check the time. Take a picture. Turn me on it says to me all the time. Turn me on. Turn me on. Turn me on. Turn me on . . .
It was so slow. So subtle. I hadn’t realized.
I didn’t grow up with this technology. I had kept myself appropriately distant for so long. I thought I was above it. That this form of addiction couldn’t happen to me. Because that is what it is and what it can become. An addiction. And the scariest part is that we don’t realize it. I didn’t realize it. And it came from completely good intentions and only from good things. I plugged in more to grow my business. I plugged in more to take more pictures of my kids. I plugged in more to be inspired by other people’s images and thoughts. Good things, right?
Good . . . better . . . best . . .
Suddenly my phone took up space in my heart and in my thoughts and in my time. It became a compulsion. I felt the needed to always be plugged in. And when I was plugged in, I was checked out to the other things. The best things. The things I really want.
As I lay there listening to the cars, I realized that my phone had become a constant noise in my life, and that constant noise was making it hard to focus and to feel and to be in the moment and to be me. It was putting me on edge, causing all those feelings that I didn’t want and didn’t need to feel.
The next day I continued to recognize that noise for what it was, and it pushed against my heart and made my chest feel tight.
Always, always there. Never silent. Never stopping.
So I ran away.
I took my three kids and we went to the mountains. I left my phone in the car, and we walked up a mountain. As we walked, I sensed something different in me but also in them. We breathed in the mountain air. We talked and laughed and were fully present. We listened to the birds. We marvelled at the blue sky above and the red rocks below. We walked and we walked and we walked.
I experienced silence.
Felt every one of my baby’s breaths as I held her against my chest.
I embraced the silence.
I had forgotten what it felt like to have silence in my heart to really feel the moment. To really love my children. To really connect to myself.
It seemed the whole world stopped. There was only this moment, in this place, with the four of us. Nothing else.
I decided there, in the mountains, that my life was mine to decide. I don’t want a good life or even a better life. I want the best life. I can’t just hope that I end up living the life I want to live. I have to choose it.
And I will choose my best life.
I spent the time on the hike back choosing. Choosing when and where I will use my phone and when I will not.
I’ve taken social media off of my phone. I’m not leaving it all together, but I need it to be less accessible. Less of a compulsion.
I bought a watch. I need something that will only tell me the time. Not something that opens up to an endless void of distractions.
I’m intentionally leaving my phone in a corner of my house throughout the day, and I’m leaving it in the car when we go on adventures around town.
I’m spending more time outside. Going to the mountains more. Drinking in sunshine more. Listening and feeling and breathing more. Connecting more.
Because when I ran away the other day, I really came back.