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Every so often... Choose to disconnect!

Posted 10/28/2018

I am connected. In fact, I think I may be addicted to connection. Connection to my phone, my internet, my social media, my website, my database and non-stop thoughts about what I should be doing. Well, things have recently conspired to get me disconnected from technology and reconnected to important people and the amazing world that is out there and all around. As I write this I have been away from home on my European adventure and on a Mediterranean cruise for almost two weeks. For much of that time, I have been disconnected, and I’m now, believe it or not, loving it.

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you will know how consistent I am when it comes to writing and sending them out. Every Sunday morning, without fail, I send a blog out to my network, no matter what is happening. In fact, I don’t think I have missed sending out a blog for ten years. Then, two days before leaving on our Italian trip, and just as I was about to send out my next scheduled blog called, Un’Avventura Italiana, the unthinkable happened. My website editing platform went down. In other words, I couldn’t access, edit or update my website and I couldn’t upload my blog. This was the Saturday before I was about to leave for Italy on the Monday. In a panicked state I rang Patrick, my website guru, for help. He was doing all he could, but it was out of his hands and suggested to me I just need to be patient.

Patient! Me! You’ve got be kidding. I’m so wired all of the time… when I want to do something, I want to do it, now. Patience and Andrew Jobling don’t often appear in the same sentence! I explained my situation several times, pleaded with him to help and, though not proud of it, got a little testy with him. He is a wonderful man, and with all the understanding, empathy and sensitivity he could muster, he said again, ‘Andrew, as soon as there is any news I will let you know, but right now there is nothing more I can do. You will just have to be patient.’

‘Okay,’ I thought, ‘I still have a couple of days, I’m sure it will be sorted out before I leave. The blog may be a day or so late, but I can deal with that.’ Every few hours I sent Patrick a message seeing if there were any updates. I can tell you that this man is the epitome of patience! The fact that he never once told me to leave him alone and pull-my-head-in amazes me. I could learn and have learned something from him. Well, the news was that the issue was not resolved before I left. It was not resolved within a couple of days. It was finally two weeks later, which happens to be today (as I write this), that I finally had access to my website editing platform. So, my blog, Un’Avventura Italiana, finally went out today. Everyone survived, the world is still turning and it really was not that big of a deal. In fact, after a few days of knowing it was out of my control and that worrying about it would not help, I started to relax knowing that I could just enjoy my trip.

That was just my website. I still had internet. I was still connected to social media, phone and communication 24-7. Until we got on the cruise ship, that is. This is where my greatest test came, and where I truly learned the power and peace that comes with being disconnected.

Turn it off yourself, every so often!

It was the first night of the cruise. We had just left Rome and were out to sea. Laura, who has a strong physical attraction to the day spa had been seduced into a 90-minute spa treatment at 6pm. I had planned to have dinner with her parents, Paul & Teresa, and meet them at the restaurant at 6:30. I had a shower, freshened up and went to find them. At this stage we had been cruising for a couple of hours and were well out to sea, no connection available. I went to the restaurant I thought we were meeting at, it was large! I looked around and there was no sign of them. I tried to call, but there was no connection. I have to admit, a little bit of no-connection-panic set in again. I walked upstairs to another restaurant to see if maybe they were there. No sign of them. What else could I do? I got a meal and a beer and sat on the back deck of the boat and watched the sun set over Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. I couldn’t relax though. I was worried they would be worried and that they may be looking for me. I was worried I couldn’t call them and let them know I was okay. I couldn’t call, text, message or face-time.

I sat frustrated for a short while and then I stopped. I looked at the wake of the boat, watched the birds flying all around, enjoyed the sun-setting and felt the warm Mediterranean sun on my face. I then thought to myself, ‘You are missing this incredible moment doofus! Paul and Teresa are on the ship somewhere and they can’t go anywhere. They will be okay without you, in fact, need some time together, without you. You are not alone right now, you are with yourself, and, God. YouI can enjoy the sounds of the water, the amazing world we live in and the beautiful sunset.’ I was disconnected, it was peaceful and I loved it.

Each day we ported in a new town, I could quickly reconnect and check to make sure the world was still there, it was! It reinforced to me that being disconnected was not the end of the world, in fact, it was the beginning of a new and far more fulfilling one. There were days when we were at sea for 36 hours and I was forcibly disconnected for that period time, and again, I loved it. There was nothing I could do but just enjoy the moment, deepen my connection and relationship with Laura and really see the beauty that is all around me. Normally I would have my head stuck in my computer or iPhone.

This blog is a shout out to all those who are addicted to connection, like me. It’s for those who can’t go even a few minutes without checking emails, messages, Facebook and Instagram. It’s a reminder that the world, outside your device, is large and beautiful. It’s a wake-up call that the relationship with your partner, family and close friends is more important than what others think of you on social media. It’s an encouragement to put down your device, disconnect and get out and move your body, look after your well-being and make sure you are focused on the people and things that really matter to you.

I would like to make a recommendation to you, if that’s okay. I was forced to disconnect and I know I would have found it much harder to disconnect by choice. However, I would like to encourage you to choose a time today to disconnect yourself from all technology for just 30-60 minutes. In that time do something that helps you appreciate the beauty all around you and the wonderful people you have in your life. Could you do that? Then, assuming you survive that short disconnection, could you plan regular times to disconnect from technology and reconnect with family, nature and the beauty of this amazing world we live in?

This blog is possibly the most important one I have ever written, for me. I know that any addiction can be devastating, particularly an addiction to connection. I understand the need for technology, I couldn’t do what I do without it, but, if you become so reliant on it that you compromise other important things, you will be sorry. Enjoy your technology, and, every so often, choose to disconnect.