Paper fold out maps,joy, laughter, and 1123 miles

Travel the unfamiliar roads, they quite possibly will turn into the start of the most wonderful adventures of your life!  ~m

That’s my quote for the day, and hopefully one I can keep in the forefront of my mind for life in general!

My past couple of weeks have been so hectic and busy with things going on, that I have not really found much time (and if I’m honest- much energy) to write here. But for once it’s been a good hectic and cathartic being unhooked.

I’ve been going hard at it, from sun-up to sun-down. I’ve been ending my days exhausted, with barely finding time to sit down in front of a keyboard to do little more than family email correspondence or a game of that stupidly addicting Bubble Witch!

But I don’t feel like it has been a bad thing at all to have taken a break from being so digitally connected. If anything it’s made me realize how much we’re caught up living the cyber-life in today’s time because of necessity for work and how we make our livings. But that cyber-life has spilled over as a way of life for most of us in our personal time.

And in my opinion, it has turned us into a socially dysfunctional species.

I’m so guilty of having my phone glued to my hand to be sure I don’t miss a text, and guilty of how I’ve let it steer my free time by letting it submerge me into it’s mind numbing activities for hours. I’ve been letting it suck time away from me, that it’s reduced me to a haggard looking bloodshot-eyed internet troll. It’s disgusting in how I’ve let it lower my quality of life!

Have you noticed how there is an electronic device that sits no further than 3 feet of us at all times? It’s dumbfounding at how quickly we have forgotten how to interact one on one with each other without them being checked every 10 minutes. By being so electronically connected, it’s making us forget how to relate to one another personally-  no it’s more than that. It’s not letting us relate humanly with our families and friends. We’re relating through small bit and pieces of computer code trying to pass it off as being involved with them on a deeper level. It seems we’ve programmed ourselves to relate only digitally. We’re telling ourselves it’s cleaner and more efficient. But we’ve become like the computers we use, cold and inanimate. We’ve forgotten the art of in-person conversation. We’ve forgotten how seeing someone else’s eyes dilate while we talk to them is a thrill of it’s own right, or how their body language towards us can make us feel, good and bad. It’s that in-person experience and interaction that is so key to good communication and growth, and we’re losing the ability of that skill!

But let me go back to joys of the road less traveled.

I have had the fortunate opportunity to do a little bit of day tripping and short overnight trips visiting college campuses with my son recently in an attempt to try and help him make his decision on where he will continue his educational career next year.  Anyone who has or has had teenagers, understand the challenges and stress that the high school senior year brings with it! (And I’m not talking just for the student, but the parent/s as well!) I have worried and stressed, feeding off of his worry and stress in this chaotic but exciting time for him. But it’s added to an already overwhelming ‘mother’s’ worry that a parent just learns to live with the just wanting their child to be happy- that I literally can watch the grey hairs pop out on my head overnight from it all! lol

So these short trips during spring break came at a good time for us both as a mother and son. We made the choice to disconnect from our devices while driving and touring, and reconnect person to person. We chose to just follow whatever road looked to be the most interesting on our travels without the help of google maps!

It was a little scary at first! To have to actually re-acclimate to life not being on the on-line IV to keep you feeling you are living to actually do the living without it’s safety net.  You might even call us crazy for even trying it! But it has been so worth it, and we’ve had so much fun! In our mapping of trips we made it a point, all at my son suggestion, to take the back roads and the long way around. With an old fashioned foldout paper map, no less!  Never before had I afforded myself time do ever do that. I always seem to hurry to the next ‘part’ of life and destination, and because I was unsure of what might be on those unfamiliar roads and that would prove to be a hindrance to getting to the destination as fast as I could, I didn’t consider taking them. But if you have a chance to take those unfamiliar roads, do it!

It was in our travels, instate and neighboring states that I realized how much ‘I’ have gotten stuck in a rut.  I do the same things day in and day out, under the pretense of life. Yes, I am living! But I’m doing the whole work, home, sleep, back to work routines day in and day out and I’ve forgotten adventure has been awaiting for me to just wake up and discover.

Instead I’ve been living ‘life’ vicariously through the internet. We’ve become a generation of voyeurs. We watch others live, perform and entertain us. From Vine to YouTube to podcast- it makes it very easy to say we’re becoming informed and well rounded with what we were never able to experience before we were all connected, that’s how we justify it.  It makes it easy to just watch and listen and to  forget that crucial element of ‘doing’ ourselves and  ‘doing’ experience. We live on the pretense of false living, and convince ourselves we’re happy about it.

I admit,  I’ve gotten lazy in living and I’ve become numb to experiencing the simple joy of just being alive. I’ve chosen the roads most familiar and because of their ease of travel. I’ve done what I thought I had to do, to just survive the monotony and not realizing I was contributing to it’s drudgery with my lackluster attitude.

I have taken rain-checks on the fun things so many times because of scheduling or because what makes our work lives run smoother is not really what we rather do but what we feel we have to do, or lack of funds to do anything but ‘go home and veg’…. but that way of thinking is what encourages us to become despondent the idea that we are meant to experience outside our comfort zones. Living life gets lost somehow in our heads and we forget to do it. We numb ourselves with our electronic devices and say this is what life is.

We let life’s stresses strip our senses of jubilation of getting a chance to wake up each day and begin again! We forget to tell ourselves ‘ You know what,  maybe yesterday WAS tough and hard!? But we are the lucky ones who get another shot at making it different today!’

We talk about the expression of joy and wonder that crosses a young child’s face as they begin walking talking and learning when they start out in life- but why do we think that joy needs to end in childhood? We will watch a child in awe and envy at their first discoveries and see the possibility of life light up their eyes- but we can keep that too! Not just age 1 or age 5, I’m talking at at 40 and 50! Age 100! We should still let that light of joy light us from inside and thrill us! We should all try to keep that expression of joy within easy reach of our smiles.

Learning by tactile exploring, and seeing new things should be a monthly requirement we gift to ourselves! (I would say daily, but that just isn’t possible for most of us time and money wise.) We need to relearn simple innocent joy! I believe it can be done. I know it can be done, I experienced and wondered at it!

I realized on our recent trips, that there are so many places practically in my back yard, that I have never explored or appreciate for their charm, beauty and to feel their own unique magic physically surround me! Not just by watching others! Yes, we should watch others and broaden our knowledge bases, but to be inspired to go so see and experience the smells and feel the elation of it ourselves. We need to capture that joy inside us for our own, not someone else’s point of view.

That one realization was so in my face that I had to ask- why do we let that joy get hidden and why do we forget about it? Why do we get so rooted in our towns and routines where we’re living that we think- it’s no different so I’ll just stay at home and be ho hum?  Unless a place has a tourist attraction or niche drawl, do we ever really think about going somewhere unfamiliar? Do we ever take the less traveled road when we have the choice or do we pass it by to just get the next thing we have to?

If I can express one thing to you it is this, we were meant to interact with this planet! Not just watch. There is so much around us that we will never understand, but that’s just it. You don’t have to understand joy. You just let yourself feel. Reclaim your child like wonder and joy. It will reward you with an appreciation for yourself that you never had before.

~m

 

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