5.2.14

Confessions of a life unplugged

     Mac n Cheese boils and burbles on the stove. The steams rises and condenses on the microwave above, warping the plastic, and I wonder why someone would put a microwave up above a hot steaming stove. The broccoli will soon start to steam, and the hot dogs will be last. The new FM radio newely purchased at a thrift store crackles from the living room. Country tunes, the only station lacking just enough fuzzy static to be able to understand the twangy words, blares. Independence Day, a tune I love to sing on solo road trips, racing down the Interstate and no one able to hear my off-pitch notes but myself, and I don't care. The boys are playing with balloons and trucks and the slide, every now and then squealing with short-lived emergencies they are learning not to come to me 
with, because they know, "if I'm not bleeding or dying, it's not that bad." 
    Lately I've been remembering. The memories are coming with a clarity I had long since forgotten. Partly because of the hectic, all-consuming busyness of my life, partly because when my mind was immersed for hours a day in that online world, parts of it were hidden away from the buzz and glare of the screen. Now that the internet is no longer a daily part of my life, the memories have been coming as peasants to the King's court...humble, shy, quiet, waiting to be acknowledged and honored. 
     I am here, in the hotel we live in for now, standing outside the battered and bruised bathroom door. My mom is inside, has been for hours, soaking and fleeing from what, I don't understand. She does this a lot, taking refuge in the quiet bathroom, the scalding water, the oasis of a room locked, the ability to empty the bottles with no one watching. Escaping from the daily hardships, the voices from the past, the questions of the future. 
     I hand the boys plates, forks, and cups to set the table with. Jericho, not yet two, beams with pride as he carries the forks into the dining room and walks around the table, reaching up one at each plate. As we sit down and I pass out the food, I quietly say "My mom loved these chips." Trevor came home with the surprise of the Cheesy Sunchips, and it's fitting, because the radio already played My Maria today, and she's been on my mind more since her birthday last weekend. She escaped into a world that numbed and blurred the edges of a painful life. No doubt, memories of her own past haunted, especially around her birthday. I remember one year on that day, she stayed in bed, crying, and Dan took us all to the Dollar Store to pick out anything we wanted for her. She smiled through the tears and stayed in the darkened room. I sometimes wonder how life would have been different had there been something akin to Facebook back then...would the isolation and darkness not of been so consuming? Would people have realized she was struggling and reached out?
     I'm not even sure how long I've been without Internet now...but instead of getting easier, it's getting harder. I think it was when I realized, Ok, all those people I 'talked' to via Facebook, that wasn't friendship. Friendship, friendship that truly matters and adds value to your life, happens outside of the computer, face to face and eye to eye. Heart to heart. Where I have to reach out and ask how someone is doing and what their life is about, and not just have it suffice to see their status updates and let them know I'm thinking of them by "liking" their stuff. I have come to realize Facebook was good at keeping up with acquaintances, but cheapened the real friendships I was trying to cultivate. And living in an age where 99.9% of people I know are on Facebook, I feel like now, me being internet free, true friendship is an uphill battle. I can't just post a status and feel that warm fuzzy feeling of being noticed and appreciated at the drop of a hat- I have to realize a majority of those people are not going to randomly text or call me just because they miss me. I have to actually pick up the phone and use it to connect to one single person now.  
     I've found myself truly isolated most days, but the days I get to see those few ladies I am choosing to invest in, those are the ones that carry me through. They carry me through the days I don't talk to anyone but my husband and kids. This is a way of life I am slowly coming to love; disconnected from the media hype and the peeking in at people's random thoughts and arguments. Connecting myself to the new church we are attending and stepping out and investing in the people we live by. Having awkward conversations with people, because frankly, I really suck at conversation face to face. And now that I am forced to have more of those kinds of human interactions, I realize how hard this real life human connection thing is going to be. Hard but, yep, you guessed it, worth it. 
     This is purely my own experience, and one I am realizing is unique to each person and their relationship with the internet. I've had so many people hear what I'm doing and say, "Wow, that is awesome. I wish I could that..." I said that as well, and have days I still say I'm not sure I can do this. 
     But when it comes down to it, the thought of getting the internet back scares me. I have tasted what life is like without it, and cannot imagine voluntarily choosing to let my life become what it was before. I wish I was like so many who can control their time online, but I just can't. And if that means that I personally, an introvert and incredibly shy woman at heart, have to let go of the excuse that Facebook and internet is my only way of connecting with people outside of my house, I realize it's time to stop making excuses and start letting people in and letting myself out. Not hiding behind a screen and a persona that really is nothing like how I am face to face. Being content with a quiet(er) life, a life of few but golden friends. 
     And the once a week ability to sign back on, see pictures of my nieces and nephews, at least the ones that weren't sent to me during the week ;) and catch up on acquaintances that I still love and cherish but don't really need to know what they are doing on a daily basis- this works for me
     The static-filled FM radio and the antenna bringing in news and PBS kids- these are my only lifelines to the bigger outside world. It is not easy, this life we have chosen, this life God has been faithful to stick with us through. But it works for us because we have realized that the internet, while making it amazingly easy to connect to and see loved ones and friends, has made it all too easy for us to become lazy in reaching out and truly allowing us to connect with those we love. I remember days when grandparents called every birthday and Sunday, and 7 page letters were written and 2 hour long phone calls were randomly made between friends just to see how they were doing, and only a few people knew the daily, sacred happenings of a life lived. I miss those days. And it makes me sad that generations might miss out on the thrill of hearing the voices of those they love and holding their hands and looking in their eyes, in exchange for a "like" and a text. 
     There is nothing like telling a friend face to face what you did yesterday, and seeing in their eyes that they actually care, that they want to know, even if they are the only one who knows in the whole world. 12 likes, 45 likes, 6 comments....nothing, nothing compares to that.

6 comments:

  1. Beautifully written. Love every word. And I love you friend! (I also find it ironic that I'm typing this in the comments, next time I'll call to tell you how much I love your blog ;).

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  2. I can't wait to see your face again. Yesterday already seems so far gone.

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  3. I agree with you . Another lovely post

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  4. This was beautiful. I loved it. And I miss those random two hour phone calls.

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  5. I just gave up Facebook too. I still have Internet, but disabled my FB account. I hated my lack of control...stuck reading random stuff from random people while sweet moments with my children passed me by. I am loving into having it!

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Marybeth! I am really impressed! I think that it can be too easy for people to be vulnerable online through Facebook type avenues, but then not be authentic and vulnerable in real life. I am so happy to see you are partaking of real life intimacy with friends and family. And thank you for sharing with us, to inspire us to live life in the real world!

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