Saturday, September 3, 2011

Unplug To Recharge

Current technology keeps giving us more and more ways and reasons to be in front of that technology which often means less time in the 'real world' including people and nature. All this can be a drain on our psyche and we need to find ways to recharge and refresh. One of the best ways to do this is to just get outside, but to make the most advantage you need to unplug and disconnect from all that tech. There are lots of simple ways to do this, but I like to take it a bit farther and truly make sure I cannot use the tech even if wanted to - get rid of the temptation fully.

There are lots of resources such as books and web site, not to mention organizations that promote this philosophy such as the National Wildlife Federation's Get Outside program and Biofriendly.org and many focused specifically on families and children. As men it is a fairly simpletwo step process: 1. Plug your devices in to charge themselves 2. Open the door and go outside to charge yourself.


On a regular daily basis unplugging can mean just getting outside and leaving your stuff behind. That is harder and harder to do as our tech becomes integrated to regular life. I totally understand wanting to listen to music while exercising - I am a huge fan of music and I like to have it on as much as possible - but listening to music means using tech and shutting yourself off from the world around you. I am not saying every time but maybe once a week leave it at home and walk, run, or bike just listening to the sounds around you. The same goes for tracking your exercise with a device such as a smartphone or PMP. While they can be great aids, here again I think you should take opportunities to unplug. You may get a better workout without monitoring, or a more relaxed one without the pressure of what will be auto-posted on your progress.

The view from our tent on the lake shore
For the third year in a row now, and likely now as long as it is possible, I have taken time off to fully unplug. My wife and I like camping and usually go two or three times a year to 'car-camping' places. Over the years we have gotten better equipment, gotten more adventurous, and have graduated to walk-in sites. Recently we found our favorite place that takes it even farther- Rock Island State Park in our home state of Wisconsin. Rock Island is a small island with no permanent inhabitants, only forty campsites you all have to walk to - from a half mile to 2 miles - and no electricity or running water. You have to take a car ferry from Door County peninsula to Washington Island, leave your car on Washington and take a passenger ferry over to Rock Island. There is no cell service, one phone line at the ranger station in case of emergencies, so you truly are inaccessible and in your own private world. Most sites are on or near the shore of the island on Lake Michigan - we always select one right on the beach.

Our departed friend Erzsi loved pink and orange
so it seemed she came to decorate our campsite at sunset.
Being away where no one could get hold of us except in an emergency for three days we truly were able to relax and forget anything back home whether work, personal life, or any other issues. In full disclosure, we do and did take a PMP with us for music - all devices charged with solar energy - but this time we barely even used it.  The sound of the waves, the wind, the birds and nature were music enough. This summer has been a rough one for us, we lost a good friend and one of our dogs to cancer and we wanted to get away and just be together. Instead we were visited by the spirits of our departed friends in the form of sights on the island. But instead of renewing grief the setting and experience were joyful reminders of those amazing spirits we lost.

By the time we came home my wife and I had each recharged our batteries and had a great time with each other, just being with each other with no other worries was worth it let alone the shard experience of that place and time.

It truly is amazing how just a little time with your own thoughts, in nature, with no distractions from your daily life and the drain of modern technology  can give you a boost to mental and physical energy. Everyone should try to weekly - or more often - unplug from all your device, and  I strongly recommend trying to get longer periods where you leave everything behind and truly experience the moment - the setting, your company, everything around and with you.