This past summer I took two months off of work and life, to teach a writing workshop to mothers and daughters. My intention for that time was to also write my first book. Writing the book was an all around challenge that I have tabled, but the space I created to write that book lead me to one of the most profound lessons of 2016. I wrote this piece in August of 2016, but never published it.
Taking a step back from my digital world (email, cell phone and social media) was a gift.
I gave my friends a fair warning that I planned to unplug and be silent. I notified my friends that I would check my email once a week (if any emergency was to arise). Many friends wished me well, others didn’t understand my intention and some made efforts to see me before the disconnection.
While unplugged, my phone was always in the proximity of me, but it was not always by my side and often times it was in silent mode. No one called, texted or emailed and it brought down a lot of the daily chatter and distraction that we have grown accustomed.
I enjoy real connection. I prefer to spend time with friends, in person, one on one because of the deeper connection. Digital connection is not an authentic connection to me. We try to present our best self, or the essence of who we are or the essence of who we want to be. Do we still know how to be present and real? Have we lost our ability to be honest?
There are people out there that are so digitally connection, yet feel isolated at the same time. A lot is missed when you are not sharing space and physical presence with another person. Is this where we are loosing compassion? Are we perceiving others to be one dimensional versus three dimensional? Do we see people as digital avatars versus real human beings?
Sometimes social media reminds me of high school.
Everyone talks about someone else, and gives opinions on trivial pop culture topics, while people around us suffer and we don’t notice.
In some cases, the people that are suffering in our community are often in out social group, family or we ourselves are suffering. We can not overcome our social issues by distracting ourselves or running away from them. We’ve done that too often.
I don’t have cable in LA by my choice, but I did have cable where I stayed. A lot of major world issues and social issues occurred during my disconnection. It was a challenge to stay silent. I watched the news and constantly researched real issues that affect our society, the future of our children and the course of human history.
Rarely do we ask ourselves is this in my best interest? Is 24 hour news in my best interest? Is social media in my best interest? Are these new technologies, social games or other digital distractions adding value to my life?
Our technologies in some ways are taking over our lives in ways that numbs our senses.
Our society is hurting at large and I am trying to figure out what we are lacking or what we as a whole yearn for. The world needs a lot of love.
The world also needs healing, but no one can force anyone into their own healing. People have to decided that they no longer want to suffer and make the choice to heal themselves. Facing hurt and shining light on them is the most brave, bold thing anyone can do. This level of honesty brings people together in beautiful ways.
This year, I stepped out on a ledge and continued on my journey alone and often unplugged. I found myself in new places with strangers that soon became friends. Had I not initiated a conversation and presented love, I may not have met that person that has now become a friend and in some cases a mentor. Each step of the way, on my journey to dig deeper, I found so much community and support. We still have the skills and ability to operate as true community and as tribes like that of our ancestors. We need this deep level of community in our lives because how we are currently operating is not working.
What I learned on my journey this summer is that there is a lot of kindness and love in unlikely places. There are people that are dying to connect, person to person, but are afraid to take that step to connect and in some ways we are loosing our abilities to connect altogether. Rather then connect with someone based on what you can get, think about connecting to others based on what you can give.
Love – Stephanie XO