I now know what it feels like to be truly “unplugged.” For the entire week of our Caribbean cruise, I was unable to access the Internet or send or receive emails or texts. I couldn't scan Facebook or Pinterest. I couldn't even confirm the balance in my checking account through my bank’s app. The cruise line did offer a costly Wi-fi package, but we decided to spend our money on our onshore excursions instead. I let my phone die, shoved it to the bottom of my suitcase, and proceeded to be fully present to my long-anticipated vacation.
As the days wore on, I noticed a loosening of my shoulder muscles, my jaw relaxing. I spent time waiting in lines for dinner, a drink or my shore tour to start talking with my fellow vacationers. Instead of checking my phone, I watched the waves foam against the sand and tracked the flight of a flock of cormorants that followed us into port. I noticed the subtle differences of the light playing on the ocean at dusk, beneath cloudy skies, when the moon was rising. I woke up each morning and ended each night without updating my Facebook status or keeping current on emails. I'm hardly a slave to technology, but within 24 hours of being “phone-free”, my mind was quieter, my pace slower, my breathing deeper. No doubt being on vacation brought me a renewed sense of calm and peace. But being completely inaccessible to the connectivity that is everpresent in our modern world provided my with a freedom and lightness I've not experienced in many years. I'm hoping to challenge myself in my daily life to take “breaks” from my internet connections on a more regular basis. Vacations aren't the only times I could benefit from being more present. And both my body and my mind benefit when I allow myself to turn off, step away and disconnect from blinking cursors and pinging texts. Perhaps I can find inspiration and relaxation not only in a tropical vista, but in my own backyard.