(Featured photo credit: Marcelo Graciolli)
Right now I’m listening to NCPR on the radio.
I have no TV and use the Internet mostly when I’m near a public WiFi spot in town, like my library.
I used to be online and connected 24/7.
I was hardwired in to what I thought I was supposed to be plugged into – news, media, entertainment, sports, shopping, advertisements.
Just like everyone else I suppose, I was reliant on these things.
Now that I’m much less connected to the bits and bytes of technology, I find I have much more time in the day, especially after dinner.
Being unplugged, I found new cravings for engagement.
In looking beyond the laptop screen, I found it right here in Willsboro.
I joined our volunteer fire department recently.
As in other small towns, there is a need for young blood to join up.
I still have 100+ hours of training to go through to be a bonafide firefighter, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
Our monthly meetings are actually a lot of fun too.
The guys there are a comical bunch of fellows.
To me it’s a night out to talk fire department business and learn what there is to learn.
When the meeting concludes, it’s an informal social event.
We’ve even talked about farming, having two other farmers in the company.
I also started attending weekly Jam Band nights at my library.
It’s kind of a bluegrass jam but they’ll play any song as long as they have chord charts and the words.
We all sing.
We all strum together.
We all take turns picking tunes.
We’re all at different levels musically.
And it was so what I needed.
It just felt good to sing and play without a care in the world.
It was rejuvenating like yoga.
And next time, there’ll be wine.
Disconnecting to Re-connect
Did you ever discover something that you didn’t know you needed?
I’ve found fulfillment through the communal and social interactions in my small town.
Would I have craved these human connections if I had 300+ channels of cable TV and high-speed internet consuming the majority of my attention?
I think not.
Human are social animals.
We need contact and to share our lives in meaningful ways with others.
Whether we dance, sing, repair a friend’s car, build something, plant a garden… whatever it is, we need those times together.
And it’s a lot more fun too, isn’t it?
Time + Value
For all of the perceived benefits, the mobile tech and the LED screens we stare at consume a lot of our time.
It can also be unhealthy.
Have you heard of things like tech-neck and iSlouch, where even kids are getting neck issues from smart phone overuse?
If this “disconnect to re-connect” mantra is totally obvious for you, I’m glad.
It’s awesome that you get it!
One of the main reasons I went the farm route was to get away from sitting multiple hours every day at a desk job.
But even farming can be solitary at times.
This is why we will have an “open barn door policy” on the farm and “pizza nights” when the bread oven is built.
We want the farm to be community meeting place and we’ll look to introduce a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model before too long.
Creating and taking advantage of opportunities for social engagement is a necessity.
I’m a firm believer that variety is a good thing.
Plus meeting new people mixes things up and allows for new connections to happen.
I’m lucky in our small town that there are opportunities to go out and take part in no-cost and low-cost activities.
It’s similar to the tiny house movement in how there is a need to connect to what is truly important in people’s lives.
To let go of the clutter and the noise is not easy, but more people are moving towards simplicity and minimalism.
Unplug and power down the tech.
Stop checking emails.
Get off of Facebook for the rest of the day.
You’re probably not missing much.
Go out and join a club, make a date with friends, volunteer at your library, church or senior center.
Do what you love to do with others.
You’re never too old to dance.