August 4th, 2012
Off to Whidbey Island where I am speaking at the Whidbey MFA program.
Hawaii was very relaxing. Here’s what we think is vacation:
1. You don’t have to ever dress up.
2. You don’t have to wear jewelry or makeup.
3. The only thing you need is sunscreen and a very few clothes.
4. No schedule is necessary except perhaps one dinner reservation especially if it’s your son’s 21st birthday which you plan around sunset.
5. Whatever you do is cool. You could swim all day in the pool, you could snorkel, you could boogie board, you could kayak (which we’ll have to do next time,) you could read, you could write, you could lie on the beach, you could hike, you could get up early or sleep in, you could crash at 9 or stay up till 3. It’s all good.
You realize that there’s very little you can’t live without. Honestly, you can live without your laptop, your iPhone, your iPad, you can live without electronics or games or movies. Human beings existed and did mountains of creative and intellectual work for centuries before the introduction of all these machines and we could live without them then and we can live without them now. It’s funny at the beach when you see people sitting around playing with their iPhones. Look up, look around, I want to say. Look where you are!
Disconnecting can be healthy but most people are afraid of it. Afraid of the loneliness of a world without electronics. Without connection. And what about connecting with the real live person who’s serving you coffee in line at Starbucks? Or the person you are having lunch or dinner with? I am always amazed to see people talking on their phone or texting instead of actually having a conversation with the person they are drinking or dining with.
When we raised our children, I remember Nick and Amy being told that they had to put down their books at restaurants. Otherwise they would keep reading through family meals. That’s not the issue now. You see kids out with their parents with their headphones on so they are listening to their iPod and playing on their iPhone rather than engaging in the world around them, communicating with their family, having a dialogue.
Our son’s going off for another year of walkabout with no phone with which to communicate. I think it will be great. I remember once when we were preparing for a hike in the Sierras, someone asking us if we were taking a cell phone and a gun. “We are not taking those precise items,” I said, “because we are going on this hike to escape cell phones and people who carry guns.”
When you hike in the Sierras you can see bears, you can hear birds, you can hear your heart beating. You can feel your thoughts circling, sometimes untidy in your head, but thought is definitely happening. And in Hawaii this morning, there were wild turkeys roaming. Not thinking much