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It was not my choice. A worthwhile experience, but painful and unnerving.

A heavy thunderstorm, complete with flooding, brought down both my phone and internet connections. Several days and multiple calls to CenturyLink later, I’m still trying to get a technician out to fix the issues.

In the interim, I am living in silence.

Previous to this experience, I would have claimed, just short of a Sister-Bertha-Better-Than-You dance, that I indeed lived a simple life. Sadly, I really thought I did. But a week without phone or an internet connect has proven otherwise.

Thus, I was forced to confront the actuality of my daily life. Here are a few things, both embarrassing and unflattering, I discovered about myself:

  • When I needed to look up the spelling of a word, without the on-line dictionary, I was forced to use a physical dictionary. After much searching, I discovered that I, in fact, do not own a dictionary. When did this happen?

  • When I brought home some beautiful lions mane mushrooms from the local co-op, without to provide the recipes, I had to look through physical cookbooks. Which was a wonderful experience that I had all but forgotten. Yes, it took longer, but I learned a lot along the way and discovered some killer recipes not at all related to the mushrooms at hand.

  • When I wanted to fill my cabin with music, without my online Spotify account playing my personally curated playlists, all I could do was to play my old vinyl records on an actual turntable. Without a playlist, I had no choice but to listen to every song, in order, on each side on the album. And in doing so, I discovered more than a few great songs I had all but forgotten. Or maybe songs I was now hearing with fresh and more life-experienced ears.

  • When I sought to understand the current weather conditions, with no access to the internet, I had to find and plug in a radio. Actually, I had to sit in my car and listen to the radio until I could remember if I even own a radio. Which I do. A hand crack radio, no batteries, I use when I go camping. Weather plus exercise! And a few interesting news stories thrown in for good measure.

  • When I had to check a fact for a project I was in the middle of, I had no choice but to mark it and come back later. Some things just have to wait.

And I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The convenience and efficiency that being connected have afforded me are remarkable. But is it worth it? I’m really not sure.

Yes, I got exactly what I wanted, exactly when I wanted it. But, as I found out, I’ve missed out on so much along the way. The funny thing is that I didn’t really seem to save any time. Though it took longer to do these things manually, it felt like time slowed down, like I was putting this time to good use. In these instances, I was not racing against the clock. Running out of time was not the fear. There was just the amount of time that I needed. Period. Funny how that works. The destination has nothing to do with the journey.

Or maybe time is like music—it’s only noticeable between activities.

Music is the space between the notes.

—Claude Debussy


PS. I am off to find a dictionary at the local used bookstore, a place I have not been in years. I stopped visiting the bookstore because, getting lost in the stacks and talking books with the owner, I was always late for my next stop. But maybe this time, I will have just the right amount of time.

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