Unplug and turn on your creative mind
I made an interesting observation during my days off on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. I realized that my thinking profoundly changes when I’m “unplugged”. My thinking was reflective, creative, and abstract to an extent that I don’t think I get when I’m in the weekly grind. In the 48 hours of being back in the mix of work, social media, news, and the hustle and bustle of daily life I’ve really noticed the difference.
During my trip I spent a lot of time just sitting. Sometimes I would have an educational podcast on, sometimes we read, and sometimes I just sat with my thoughts. I had thoughts about the past, thoughts about the future, and to me, fairly profound moments of living in the present and being hyper-focused on mindfulness and on being in the moment. Sometimes that was a focus on the birds, the noise of the wind through the trees, or the sound of the water gently moving across rocks on the shore, as they have for thousands of years.
We stayed at a spot I have stayed many times, Pillsbury Island on Eagle Lake. At a campground named “Thoreau” which was named after Henry David Thoreau who stayed at the exact location on the island in the 1800’s. In his writings about “The Maine Woods” he made similar observations about nature and self-reflection, and one doesn’t have to do anything more than submit to nature in that environment in order to do the same. No special training required!
My wife bought me a really great sporting watch last Christmas. It has GPS that tracks your location and gives you a map overlay on your phone or computer. It also tells you the ambient temperature, barometric pressure, altitude etc. Heck, it even has a storm alarm that based on the barometric pressure and your altitude and warns you approximately one hour before it rains! It even links to the notifications on phone to let me know when I’m getting an email, text, or app message. It’s a pretty amazing piece of technology and has become a piece of gear that I wear daily, especially when I’m in the wilderness.
My watch beeped once during my seven days in the wilderness. It beeped to let me know the barometric pressure was dropping and rain was inevitable. The first day I was back I drove to Southern Maine to pick up our dogs from my mother-in-law who was dog sitting for us while we were gone. The number of beeps on my watch during my 4 or so hours of driving: 312. You see, I am not technologically savvy and couldn’t figure out how to break the bluetooth pairing between my phone and my watch, so every time I got an email, a hangouts notification, a text, a phone call or any other annoying reminder that I was back in civilization, it would beep.
Beep… beep… beep… beep… beep… beep. Every beep progressively proved to me how distracted we are in daily life. Since I started writing this blog I’ve responded to two emails, answered the phone, made a phone call, and checked the weather. My concentration has not been broken to the extent that I can’t finish my thought, but it certainly slows me down and makes the process less enjoyable.
I’m reminded again in my life that it’s important to unplug and allow myself the opportunity for my brain to function in the way that its intended to function. Now the challenge.
Can you replicate Thoreau’s “Maine woods” in your life and put the distractions aside?