Dear Fun Loving Self,
This summer, many of us will pack our bags and head out on holidays with family or friends. As modern travelers, we appreciate having our smartphones at the ready so we can take photos, check the weather, get directions, or find a nice café nearby. But once we have the phone in hand, it’s tempting to open up a news article or peek at our work e-mail to see how things are going back at the office. After all, smartphones are cleverly designed to distract us!
When we get distracted, our stress levels may rise again, even though we’re on vacation. It’s as if every single one of us – indeed, the whole of humanity – is continually being sucked into a collective vortex of urgency and distraction. The tension is always there in the background, even when we think we are resting.
To escape the pull, it’s not enough to tread water. We have to make an effort to swim away from the whirlpool. For the sake of our own well-being, it’s essential that we set aside our distracting, anxiety-inducing devices and focus for a moment on what really matters.
Vacation is the ideal time to return to the essence of what makes us human, to remember what it means to be living on planet Earth. It’s an opportunity to get ourselves grounded once again in real life. Day-to-day living is a precious gift to be honored through our attention. It is a responsibility to be fulfilled through our choices and our actions.
The trouble with modern life is not that we don’t know how to live. We humans have always been masters of the art of living, whether in communities or as individuals. We know instinctively how to craft an environment and a way of life that suits our needs. The trouble is that the vortex of disconnection and consumption is always pulling us away from our true way of life.
For all but the most recent decades of human history, we were profoundly connected with the natural world. We spent most of our time outdoors – gathering wood, fetching water, hunting, gathering, harvesting, and just relaxing. Our feet were firmly planted on the ground. We were always aware of our connection to Mother Earth, who nurtured us as we maintained an authentically symbiotic relationship with her.
So this holiday season, I invite you to renew your relationship with your mother. Let the earth calm you and remind you of your roots. Allow her to wipe away your tears and assure you that all is well. Give yourself the gift of long walks in the woods or afternoons wandering the beach picking up seashells. Listen as the beauty of nature whispers the truth to you. Let yourself see the wonders of the world through the eyes of the children in your life. Allow yourself to play.
In this chaotic world, we will always be confronted with demands on our attention. Our devices will tempt us to soothe our anxiety with the false remedy of distraction and busyness. Your task is to turn toward what your heart knows to be the real cure.
We humans created this modern way of living, and it’s in our power to change it. It’s up to you to listen to your own instincts and decide for yourself what matters. It's tempting to allow the distraction to become a very good excuse not to connect and be responsible for our lives. Especially the mistakes we've made along the way. If it's time for you to complete that painting, do that. If it's time for you to reach out to your biological mother and seek forgiveness, do that. It may be time to take your wife on a date or have a fun filled family vacation. So plant your feet firmly on the earth. You have a choice about how to live!
Action item: On holiday or at home, choose a day to put your phone away and spend your time outdoors. How do you feel? How did the feelings of disconnecting from your device shape your day? Did you feel in control? Did you learn something new about yourself and the people around you? How will you incorporate this way of being into your day-to-day life? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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