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Disconnect to Connect

Getting ready to travel, I usually arrange to have our physical mail held at the post office, and I cancel delivery of our newspaper. During this past Thanksgiving holiday my husband and I traveled to Tennessee to be with his parents, brother and sister-in-law, and nieces’ families. I did not take along my laptop computer and most of the time I was not in hearing range of my cell phone. I did use the phone for staying in touch with family while shopping and arranging visits. Often when I travel, I lose all desire to “check my e-mail.” The thought of it is like swatting annoying mosquitoes.

For six days I saw only brief snippets of television programing, other than the weather forecast at the airport. Several times I read the local newspaper but most of that was material unrelated to my life. I tuned out the world and focused on our immediate family and friends. I cooked, shopped, visited, read, worshiped, walked and ate good food. For the most part, I felt more calm, peaceful and less stressed than when I am plugged in. Coming home I have been listening to music CDs on my car radio and I haven’t missed the talk chatter or the news. (Perhaps sometimes we are angry when driving due to our listening content?)

After a summer and fall of non-stop political television and telephone advertising, it’s a relief to get away from the blare. For months much of the news has been about as appreciated as hearing fingernails scraping on blackboards. Or it has focused on depressing statistics, earthly disasters, or trivial celebrity blunders. After returning home, I noticed that not much had changed by way of news coverage–local or otherwise. Miners are still dead, Prince William is still followed by the paparazzi, the weather is still crazy, etc.

Often I tell my stressed clients to take a regular break from television news and newspaper or news magazines. I do not believe that our minds and nervous systems where created to handle concerns from the whole state, country, or world. Of course we should attempt to stay informed and able to discuss matters of public interest. Last night I heard about a couple on the Internet who has asked the public to “vote” on whether they should have an abortion. Public and private are now grossly enmeshed. I realize that I am hopelessly slipping behind in technological advances yet I grimace at the confusion that surrounds people’s lives. We share horror and pain from all over the planet but do not know the person three doors down the street who commits suicide. We televise, tweet, text, and talk yet rarely touch.

Here’s the conundrum: There is a growing abundance of connection to strangers’ lives, or shallow connections that keep entangling people’s use of time. All the while, folks seem ever more isolated and lonely — thirsting for intimacy and a sense that they are needed or precious to someone.

I am making a personal resolution for one day each week I will not read the paper, Internet news, or listen to news. More time with God and finding a way to connect to a person in my realm of influence.

Let there be peace…and let it begin with me.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. What are some connections that you might need to sever in order to regain your sense of what you can influence in this world?

2. What are some small quiet voices you might notice if the world chatter was tuned out?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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