I’ve just come back from vacation.
I think there are two kinds of vacationers. One is looking to “do stuff”; the other is not. We were emphatically not. The problem with taking a vacation to relax in modern times is, of course, that you can’t get away from all the stressful technological things you do at home. Twitter, blog readers, e-mail, you name it. It isn’t even a matter of just leaving the computer at home, because it’s all on the phone. The phone that you have to carry with you, because you no longer function without it. (We’re such horrible cliches, my husband and I. His work phone is with a different carrier, so we now carry three phones everywhere we go, just in case one of them doesn’t have reception. In our defense, he mountain bikes solo in some remote places, so we’re trying to be prepared for a not-too-improbable accident.)
I seem to remember watching a commercial one day where an SUV full of guys drives around all day until they’ve “found it!” The “it” in question being a spot without phone reception. I felt a little pang of recognition. When we lived in New England, I was crushingly disappointed that we had service even in the wilds of Vermont.
But on this vacation we got exactly what we wanted. There was no wi-fi. There was no phone reception. When we drove out into town we could make important calls and check that no one had called us in an emergency, but mostly we were technologically adrift. We had a radio and a TV, but we didn’t turn on either.
It was really satisfying. Every day we woke up at the crack of dawn, because the dog was SO EXCITED that he couldn’t sleep anymore. Then we would leisurely make our way to some kind of outdoorsy thing, either for hiking or biking, come home for a late lunch, take a nap, eat some dinner, play outside with the dog, go to bed. I read four novels, and K reread the first volume of The Lord of the Rings.
In the midst of _Gaudy Night_, my favorite of the Dorothy Sayers books, I had a stunning and satisfying realization about my career path. I had to wonder, later, if the whole time the answer had been right there, just waiting for me to be quiet enough to hear it.
I also had to wonder: if life was so much nicer “low-tech,” why do we work so hard to fill up every moment with electronic noise?