I’ve only recently written about trying to live more in the moment, about trying not to be overwhelmed by what I haven’t done, and it’s not getting any easier.
We recently enjoyed a great week’s holiday in Dorset, staying in a lovely farmhouse cottage in a very pretty, beautifully quiet village. I forgot to bring my iPod charger, so after the first evening I was bereft of music and podcasts, we didn’t take the laptop, and with my archaic mobile phone, I had very limited internet access. I could broadcast by text, but that was about it.
It was fabulous. We discovered, or rather re-discovered how to live, how to talk to each other. We had time to do all the things that everyday folks used to take for granted, because they simply didn’t have the options that we have today. These luxuries of synchronised devices and multiple channels, of always-on connection and near-constant alerts and reminders are not luxuries at all: they can be like the proverbial albatross around our necks, ever-present and inescapable.
Instead of staring at a screen waiting for something to happen, clicking ‘refresh’ and ‘just checking Twitter’, we got on with having a good time. We’d go for a walk through the woods on the farm, wander up the footpaths into the village for a pint – in the middle of the afternoon! We’d go into the field behind the cottage to fly a kite, just for 20 minutes or so. We’d luxuriate in an icecream, or just sit and watch the sea. We’d read the paper, read a book, do the crossword, play cards. We even did a 1000-piece jigsaw that was in the cottage.
It was fabulous. The lack of distraction was brilliant.
Back in the workplace, I’ve been trying to apply myself to doing one thing at a time, to avoid falling back into the habit of opening up Facebook or just reading someone’s blog. It’s a very noble cause that has much to commend it, but it’s not easy. As I do work in social media I often ‘have an excuse’ to have those things on the go, but I really shouldn’t. It’s a proper #firstworldproblem, but I do need to learn how to concentrate again. At university I was quite proud of how I could really dive into an essay, head in the books, reading, learning, digesting, compiling arguments and evidence for hours at a time, focused and productive.
More and more I like holidays that are a proper mix of being active, for doing things with our children, and being inactive. That week in Dorset we went out mackerel fishing (we only caught one, but I did then gut it and cook it for tea!), fossil hunting at Lyme Regis and we walked up The Golden Cap.
But we also spent time just ‘being’ with each other, not doing very much. You should try it sometime.