Raised an only child meant lots of time spent in an imaginary world. Inspired by books, which provided grand adventures throughout countless themes, I had a vivid imagination. I remember well the thrill of that as a child. One of my favorite activities was hiking into the woods that surrounded our house with a backpack loaded with an old blanket, a book, a small thermos, a notebook, and pencils. I would find one magical spot or another, depending on my mood. It might be beside the little creek to listen to the sound of the gurgling water past or a young grove of trees that provided a small clearing that felt like a charming place.
As adolescence loomed, I outgrew the magic of the forest and turned instead to the typical things that all kids so. Then came marriage, college, children, work, and all the trappings of real life. We recently brought our RV to a small campground on almost 5,000 acres of woodlands. We spend at least a part of most weekends here. I love it here, but on our first visit, I was shocked to discover a certain unease with the prolonged silence. You can read about that lesson here.
When Did I Become Afraid of Silence?
Hitting the pause button on connectivity and seeing what happens.
We have been back several times, and each time, I find myself a little closer to the magic of my childhood. I still worry about my children who have never known the magic quietness that cannot be filled by electronic connections to the outside world. (There is no internet and only the spottiest of cell service at the camp). What will be profoundly different about them because they were denied what seems like such a critical part of my upbringing? Different does not have to be wrong, but it just seems that children need more time to explore, play, and entertain themselves than they currently get. When they are my age, will a video game or endless drives to different sporting events replace the feelings of the memories I have of time alone in the woods?
I am slowly learning to embrace this again to enjoy simply being present in the moment. I watch deer, sit beside a gorgeous lake and some days I write. There are days when I almost feel parts of my soul knit together again. Taking a break from the constant hustle is good for me and good for my family. We talk here. That doesn’t mean that all or even most of our conversations are deep and meaningful. It does mean that when my children, or my husband, say something to me, I am not distracted by the device in my hand, the television or the computer. I am fully present to hear what they are saying.
In this new magical place, all of this is forced. We have no choice but to grow comfortable with silence and a lack of constant connectivity. How do I take the lessons I am learning back home? How do we unplug and become fully present with one another at home? Why do I not wake in the mornings and revel in silence to be alone with my thoughts? Instead, my morning routine remains unchanged. Wake-up, make coffee, grab my phone, and peruse notifications. The next hour is usually spent on social media, Medium or catching up with long-distance friends on Messenger. Then the chaos and rhythm of the day start.
I know being here is healing. What I am still trying to understand is from what do I need to heal? Is it the never-ending busyness of life? Maybe, because I have also learned that I am not too busy. What happens to me is that I spend a large part of my day in mindless pursuits like social media and then still have to cram in all the “real life” things, and that makes life feel busy and frantic.
I plan to continue to document this journey as I explore the changes of a few days here and there without connectivity and constant entertainment. Somehow, I think there is something valuable to learn in this. I am not sure what yet, but I am looking forward to the journey.