The photos are unrelated but I had to share them. I took these this morning while the computer was turned off and I saw how sunny and gorgeous it was outside, albeit January. In Wisconsin. So the photos I didn't take when we were under the weather this fall I took today. The annual jacket pictures. (Followed, yes, by the annual jacket-photographs-ice-cream-bribe.)
But maybe the pictures aren't unrelated after all. Because these two are at the heart of what I'm about to say.
I talk a good talk when it comes to being present. Playing more. Reading more. Being alive and participating joyfully in this everyday experience. And I do it. Quite often. But... not as often as I'd like.
In truth, this computer stalks me. It haunts me.
I run a business. I write this blog. I've started a book. I'm a little busy. And the computer sucks me in, day after day; moment after moment.
Our home office is situated in the center of our home in a pass-through hallway. No matter where I'm going or what I'm doing, I walk by the computer. It's there. Flirting with me in all of it's IMac allure. It's whispering, "What's happeing online? Don't you want to check email? Your blog? Facebook? Pinterest? How about that recipe you were looking for. It'll only take a minute." On and on it goes. Damned thing.
And it does only take a minute, or a few minutes. But they're adding up.
And I find myself sitting (or more often standing - it'll only be a minute, right?) here at this screen with a child and a dog at each side and a cat at my feet, all wondering where mama went and what exactly is so captivating over here.
And then I yell (to no one in particular): "ENOUGH!" Enough. (Okay, I only yell it in my head. But seriously: Enough!)
I shut it off. I talked to Pete. If we could quit carbs (sugar! popcorn! grains!) for almost a year surely we could tone down the on-line time. For real. He's interested too, after too many precious hours lost in this endless pit of potential.
And so we are. We're taming the beast. Being mindful. Present. Alive. Not asleep at the wheel staring at a lifeless (albeit entertaining) box.
Today I turned off my computer. I skimmed emails in the morning (3 minutes?) and briefly mid-day (15 or so). And after I write this post I'm powering this baby off for the night. Because you know what? I'll never wonder what I missed on-line sitting here for hours. But I might just miss the time I could have spent knitting, reading to my kids, playing "fairyland", taking my puppy for a walk, or even cleaning my basement.
Because really - what will we remember? The time we spent on Facebook or the time we spent living our best lives and drinking up all that is here for us? I know my answer.
So I have some new rules for myself. They are old rules too. Things I've talked about before.
1. Go outside every day. Play. Frolic. Live and breath and be. This is my only lifetime in this body. I'm going to live it up.
2. Power the computer off when not in use. It's so much less tempting that way. I often write a post-it note to myself that I stick to the center of the screen with "Be Present" written on it, or the time I will next let myself boot up. It keeps me honest to see that "1:00 PM" staring at me if I'm powering it on at 11.
3. Simplify. Take those few-yet-frequent minutes that I use to spend on the internet and clean something. Anything. A drawer. A closet. My head. (As I type this my porch is brimming with bags of loot that we are moving down the road. Look closely at the photo above and you'll see some of treasures in the background. By simplifying my computer use I will have more time to simplify my home.)
5. Set Limits. I will still be on-line. Almost every day. But when I do I will be mindful of how much time I give it. 10 minutes? 30? An hour? One self-indulgent evening after the kids are asleep now and then? I will do so mindfully and know when my time is up and life is calling me back.
Oh, the irony of writing this post on my computer. But alas, I don't have most of your phone numbers.