I was relatively verbose about taking a true break from this wild streets of the Internet during then holiday season. It took a lot of willpower to work myself towards the place where I uninstalled apps, turned off a bunch of notification settings and eased my eyes away from the screen.
Deadlines and The No Game
Because work is a fluid, and often flurried, attempt at making things happen and ensuring we’re all still eating, it goes against my nature to turn things down. But I was determined to and – to be really honest – it sucked, because it felt like I was disappointing people. To turn down a job that entered my inbox about ten minutes before I said I was shutting up shop for the year was a turning point for me – but it was one I had to take. Had I accepted it, I would’ve ended up working through the holiday season and, for yet another year running, have locked eyes with my daughter over my monitor, and not the Monopoly board. On that note, I probably disappointed a few people this holiday season. But the truth is, I didn’t disappoint the life in front of me.
But I’m glad I did it. Without the distractions of my phone bleeping every five minutes (oh the emails came in, I just didn’t read them until many days later… if you needed me during the holidays, you could text me), I slowed down. It took me about a week to really start feeling like I was no longer in hyperdrive but, when the relief hit, I swam with that current. And it was good.
So good, in fact, that I started to realise a few things. These were them:
- Not everyone expects you to reply to an email within 25 seconds. In fact, most of them can wait a day and, if not, they’ll phone you. Promise.
- Absolutely nothing feels sweeter than not waking up to an alarm clock. I want to work on waking up naturally every day, if that’s even possible.
- There is a lot of joy to be found in spending six hours playing Monopoly and not worrying about deadlines.
- You probably need to do this a little more often than you’ve let yourself (this is the first time I’ve taken a true break and not worked – even a little bit – in many, many years).
- Taking three hours to cook dinner is a delicious way of wiling away some time and not feel like you’re eating in a hurry.
- The perspective gained from logging off is far bigger and more important than the one you gain from logging in every day.
- Taking a day to do absolutely nothing is sublime. I used to have this rule that we would do this at least once a month… and then I realised we hadn’t done it at all for a very long time. I need to reinstate our Do Nothing Days.
- I have a compelling need for things to have a beginning and an end point. Life doesn’t always work like that though, so leave some space for meandering stories and stop waiting for everyone to ‘get to the point’. Sometimes, the story is magical just because it is.
- Read more books. Read way more books. You really need that.
- You are enough, even when you’re not doing anything particularly productive. It is okay to not be doing something, some of the time.
I’m back now – reconnected and logged back in, but I’ve kept some apps uninstalled on my phone, and become a little picky about what I’ll let bleep at me throughout the day. Maybe it’s not that I needed to disconnect at all, it’s that I needed to reconnect, but do it on terms I was consciously aware of. After all, I realised that on the days I feel powerless to the whirls and windmills of what I face before me, I have the power to turn away from it and focus instead on the life lived in front of me.