Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get the Hell Off the Internet! Go Out into the World!

By Christine Clark

“Get the Hell Out of Bed!” was printed in huge letters on the earsplitting alarm clock my sister gave me years ago when I was (too often) late to work. Many days, I wish my computer had a similar-sounding gong that would go off when I have surfed, dawdled, and procrastinated too long on the Internet—checking Facebook, the news, the weather, e-mail for the third time in an hour, just in case, well, yes, just in case.
Gong! Get the Hell Off the Internet! The problem is, too often I feel isolated, disconnected, and I crave connection, but I look for connection in all the wired places.
Gong! Get the Hell Off the Internet! resounded loud and clear for me on Sunday. I took my hands off the computer keyboard and mouse, put that baby to sleep, turned my back, and walked away. And then I got in my car and drove away.
Stay with me here—where I drove might not, and likely will not, be your choice. Substitute your destination for mine. My destination was a local nursery, Orchid Island Botanicals, for a free class on orchid care. I sat outside under a huge oak tree, felt the breeze and the warmth of the midday Florida sun, and listened to two orchid experts, Paul Price and Judy Wagner, tell me how not to kill my orchids.
Each orchid blossom has this
sensuous, juicy world I just
want to dive into.
I could have stayed home and Googled orchid care, but I am glad I didn’t. I did not have to search for information because it was freely provided. Nor did I have to investigate experts, because they were right in front of me. In fact, Judy Wagner is so skilled, she even has orchids named after her. My environment expanded from my home office to the outdoors. My field of vision increased from my iMac monitor to include acres of flowers, trees, and shrubs. Rather than touch only a keyboard and mouse, my tactile experience was enhanced by the inclusion of orchids, bark, and sphagnum moss as they were passed from hand to hand among the class attendees.
I listened to voices in real-time, real-sound, not from a Web cam or digital recording. I heard the thunk when an antisocial squirrel lobbed a few acorns toward the group below him. I saw the flame and heard the hiss of the mini-blowtorch Judy and Paul used to sterilize their shears.
The "Fail"... I hope I don't
I learned that fail was the nickname for the phalaenopsis (fail-eh-NOP-sis) orchid until people figured out how to grow them and stopped killing them.
You might roll your eyes at the idea of an orchid class, but what would you substitute? What about a walk in the woods, a ride through the Everglades on an airboat, a taste of an exotic food such as alligator tail, a zumba class, a single chocolate from a specialty shop you have meant to visit? Possibilities for diversions and excursions abound, and many are free.
The next time you are screen-weary and feel that naggy itch to connect, to do more, be more, feel more… Gong! Get the Hell Off the Internet… and Go Out into the World!

What are some ways you step away from technology? How do those things make your life richer? In what non-wired ways do you receive the most connection?

Many thanks to Orchid Island Botanicals in Vero Beach, Florida,
Paul Price, and Judy Wagner for a few lovely,
informative hours away from the Internet.

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