Living a life worth writing about: the sensory experiences of spring, and the merits of living life offline.
Being largely offline all week due to illness made it difficult to transition back into writing on my computer.
Even working on my book that I’m currently writing wasn’t appealing initially. I simply did not want to go back to that somewhat addictive world of turning on my laptop, and opening up my on-going writing screen—but I am writing a book. I’m a blogger, too. More, I love writing online.
I’m writing this now inside of my little cork journal, the one with the off-white pages. I’m writing with a turquoise pen that I found haphazardly behind the toaster oven, and truthfully I despise the way that it moves across these gold-stamped lines. My scrawl looks like barely legible scribbles as I sip a hoppy beer and write on the kitchen counter, while simultaneously watching my Mac and cheese in the oven.
Yet writing on paper is soothing. It’s a meditation practice of sorts. It’s stabilizing and centering in a technology-submersed world—that often does little more than drive me unnaturally and unhappily into my head.
At first—after half-a-day of illness—I felt I was missing something by being unplugged–at least, half-a-day after feeling well enough to care, having finally pried myself from the toilet.
I missed nothing.
There is nothing on Facebook or Instagram so interesting as my baby’s closeup-but-still-tiny, inquisitive face, checking on Mommy lying on the couch. There is nothing so fascinating as watching my oldest pretend-making Mommy get-well food, along to a cooking show, giving me tastes from an “empty” spatula and her full-of-imagination mixing bowl.
I finally cared about social media, and even sending longer text messages than “I’m alive” to my family, and I hopped back online, and I was let down.
In a few days of complete couch-reclining, Fuller House binge-watching, frequent toilet-visiting sickness, I had grown more accustomed—and interested—with real life—the way my baby’s hand felt inside of mine (kind of nesting-doll-like), or how the weather was mild enough to open the windows, or the sounds of the hungry bird that my baby watched through her bedroom window.
Illness—even a relatively mild, temporary illness—has a funny way of reminding us to appreciate the vibrancy of ordinary life, rather than finding these simple exchanges boring and trivial. I had grown used to these little sips of everyday living—more than I had to checking my notifications on social media, or my website, or to working on my book.
Illness was an invitation to re-invent my habits, to question my routines, and then to alter them, so that I could find more peace, ease and joy in daily living.
This said, the care, love and well-wishes via Facebook, from friends that I don’t regularly text or speak with, was bolstering and fun—but they were additional perks to an already full life, instead of a staple of life itself (and this feeling of real-world wholeness and grounding came when I was sick).
To be fair, I also gave up coffee, alcohol—as well as most food and water. (Obviously, not by choice—I was sick.) But just like I slowly sipped my first coffee in a week (in a typically-way-too-small mug), I returned cautiously to a half a hoppy ale (before pouring another half when that settled well). And to Instagram. And to Twitter.
I won’t give up these things—Facebook, and text messaging, and food—but I was unexpectedly reminded of moderation, of variety, of liberation.
I write this, in closing, with a turquoise pen, in my notebook-for-random-thoughts, with my messy handwriting. I know that I’ll type this later with clickity-clacking fingertips on my laptop. I enjoy doing both—and I’ve always noticed that I never lack ideas when I’m immersed in living my life, so that I have something to write about.
Life is balance, and life is physical, too. We live so much inside of ourselves. We are increasingly computer-driven.
As spring comes, especially, I want to remember that my kids and I need to experience walking barefoot in the grass, feeling sunshine tickling our skin after we jump through the sprinkler, and having sticky ice cream melt down our chins—and to know that it’s equally okay to rest and watch a little TV.
Life is a sensory experience as much as it is a cerebral one, but we forget this, with our iPhones, and our air conditioning. I don’t want to forget that it feels good to sweat in the summer, and to put my phone away for an afternoon.
So as I begin to feel well enough to cook and jot down some thoughts, I can’t help but find myself hoping that I’ll nurture this lesson that life is for snuggling my kids, kissing my husband, eating homemade food, and singing in the car with the windows down. It’s OK that it’s also for texting my sister an inside joke, teaching my kids how to use the Roku remote, and blogging.
But I want to live my life offline first.