It’s the week after Christmas and I’m sitting alone in the house. It’s quiet. I can hear it breathe. The soft whoosh of a ceiling fan. The faint hum of appliances. The barely detectable-- but always there-- electronic heartbeat of a modern home.
Christmas Day was crazy, noisy, our home filled with loud voices and laughter-- the cumulative crescendo of a holiday season. It’s not over yet, the New Year is yet to come.
But today, it’s quiet. There’s time to reflect.
Our gatherings were smaller this year. Everyone missed dad, of course. It’s a little jarring to carry on without him. But we did. And it was good. There are grown children on the Mainland, and their absence felt large. But the magic of Facetime brought them close for some precious minutes.
Technology. It’s a wonderful thing, when used right. I’m beginning to think we’ve lost the ability to do that.
As I sit, I’m very aware of my phone, the TV, the radio, my iPad, all insistently beckoning, “look at me! Look at me! Just one quick look, promise.”
But if I give in, the silence will vanish. There will be no more peace. The outside world waits to intrude and suck me back in. As I write this column, I’m aware that my laptop is making it oh, so easy to peek, just a little bit, to see what’s going on out there. The temptation is great- come on, one glance at Twitter, one little Facebook post, five minutes of news. Can’t hurt, right?
But I intend to resist. As long as I can, anyway. It’s a test, because, you see, it IS so very hard to tune out. It’s HARD to ignore all the distractions and just—breathe. To think. To read a real book and drink a cup of tea. It didn’t use to be like this. But I’ve changed, and not for the better.
What about you?
When’s the last time you took a break from the noise? How long can you go without checking your emails or blasting out a text? Are you a slave to streaming, or Twitter, or YouTube, or video games, or Facebook, or browsing the ‘net?
Can you make it for five minutes? Ten? A full day?
I’m realistic. I know I won’t last an entire day. But I’ve set a goal for the new year. In 2020, I will cut back on all electronic stimulation. I’ll set aside a part of each day to reset and recharge, calm my mind, and become human again.
For now, the space I’ve set aside today is like a small victory.
It’s the day before the New Year and I’m sitting alone. It’s quiet. And I can hear the house breathe.