I didn’t watch the Superbowl. It wasn’t just that my feelings about football can best be summarized as “mild disinterest” or that my desire to argue about which ads were superior and whether the halftime show was appropriate was nil. That’s all true, but the bigger issue was that I had unplugged for the weekend.
No phone, no TV, no internet.
This choice was not entirely of my own making. I’m writing this column from sunny Mexico, where I’m spending a couple weeks visiting my partner. We decided to take off for the weekend and head to the shores of Bacalar lagoon, located on the Yucatan peninsula, just north of the Mexican border with Belize. We checked into an Airbnb overlooking the lagoon, located at the end of a very bumpy, unpaved road. The proprietors described it as an “eco-cabana.” Solar-powered, lake access, paddle-boards included, open air shower. It was heaven.
And – as it turns out – there is no cell service in heaven. I’m pretty sure there’s a bumper sticker in there somewhere, but I digress.
I went three days technology-free, using my phone solely as a camera and an alarm clock. And the latter only because we had to be at the dock at 9am one morning to meet up with the captain of the small catamaran who would be our guide for a day on the lagoon.
Three days doesn’t sound like much when I write it down, but as a full citizen of our hyper-connected world, I’ll admit it felt a bit unsettling to disconnect so completely. As the mother of young children, I’m always on-call. Always available, just in case I’m needed.
But let’s be honest: I wasn’t likely to be needed. The odds of an emergency were low. The discomfort I felt with my phone powered down was much more about a daily routine that included mindless scrolling through my social media feed, compulsive perusals of the impeachment headlines, and the too-frequent “quick checks” of my work email. Just in case.
I adjusted quickly, giving myself permission to tune out and rest. I played board games, napped in a hammock, and read books. Multiple books. It turns out there’s a lot more time in the day than it sometimes seems. Funny how that happens.
Then there was the water. I saw a meme a while back that touted the power of water to heal the soul. Angry? Head to the water. Sad? Head to the water. Overwhelmed? Head to the water. There’s something to that. Sitting on a pier with your toes in the water stills something inside you, even as the water is constantly in motion. And there is no better soundtrack so sleep than gently lapping waves.
I returned to the world in time to catch the meltdown of the Iowa caucuses, and seriously considered turning right around and fleeing back to my jungle paradise.
Okay, I didn’t seriously consider that. I miss my kids too much. But I did choose to skip the State of the Union address in favor of finishing another book. Some fiction is far more pleasant than others.