When my husband said he booked our anniversary trip to a place between Mazama and Winthrop Washington, I just about laughed. What in the world were we going to do almost four hours outside of Seattle?
I quickly remembered these architectural “huts” I had seen the year prior, set in a meadow with mountains peering in the background — bingo. My husband booked us at the Rolling Huts famed for its design by architect Tom Kundig from Seattle.
Most of my life is connected. At any given time, almost everyone knows where I am because of a check-in on Facebook, knows what I’ve experienced from a caption on Instagram, and heck, knows what makes me laugh by seeing my Snapchat feed. The public lifestyle that travel blogging demands has permeated almost every aspect of my life. And in irony, by choosing to write this, I am opening up yet another moment of my experience. In large, I'm okay with it. I enjoy getting to share this journey; it provides me a meaningful and inspiring sense of connection with a large tribe and an encouraging community. That said, there is certainly a time and place for not sharing in a "live" format.
With an opportunity to travel not for work, immersed in nature somewhere in the North Cascades National Park, I told my husband I’d be disconnecting for our 72 hours there. Truly a time to recalibrate and be in the moment.
Here's what I found from the three days:
Day 1 was humorous. I think the habit of holding the phone and scrolling was the most obvious. My hands felt empty, if that was such a thing. With no notifications, there was no need to have the phone and the limited service meant sparse connection even with Google Maps, so my phone mostly just stayed in my bag. As the day continued, out of habit I’d pick up the phone to light up the screen to find nothing there.
It was in that moment I realized how many times my phone interrupts my day. Between all of the social accounts, emails, texts, and everything in between, I calculated an average of 125+ notifications a day. 125 interruptions. It was a bit mind blowing.
125 times I wasn’t focused on the moment at hand.
125 opportunities missed to look someone in the face by instead choosing to look down at my phone.
125 times my mind wandered elsewhere.
**Disclosure: during the trip, my equally-competitive husband and I agreed to keep my Fitbit connected so that I could finish out a challenge with friends. Everything else was turned off. We even took an extra walk one night so I could get a few more steps, sorry not sorry.
Day 2 was a reminder. I felt like I had cleansed myself of an addiction — or something of that nature. I no longer knew what my friends were doing on Snapchat, or what people were posting on IG. I was far more interested in where I was and who I was with. The sense of presence fed my soul and heart. There’s both a beauty and ugliness to the ability to be connected. I believe social media can be beautiful from a communal and connecting aspect — it's not all bad. It’s actually how I first discovered this place in Washington which has afforded my husband and I some time together disconnected. (Shout out to Local Wanderer, this place truly is brilliant.)
What I found myself disliking about the constant connection, though, was what it robs us of. I found myself reflecting back, seeing the times I robbed myself of being in the moment. Solution: pick and choose when to be connected on the apps, when to scroll the feeds and check notifications, and do it on my own time — not when I am with someone.
Day 3 was all balance. There’s something ever looming when an experience comes full circle. As the bags got packed, the last few moments were savored, and the last of our 72 hours wound down, I began to reflect on what life would look like moving forward. The aspens that whistled near the deck, the same bees who were there the first morning, all of it which seemed so new a few sunrises ago, now seemed to be home.
Something about being in nature, with almost no service, begs of you to look inward. As I look at waterfalls, see deer feed in the meadows, and gaze at snowcapped mountains, I can’t help but wonder what it all means to me. One of my favorite quotes says: “We are home in nature, and in nature we are at home.” The drive back to Seattle lent itself to conversation and goals around how to let social be a part of daily life, and what balance would look like. Something along the lines of picking and choosing, and recognizing the right time and place to be "connected."
As I turned my phone back on I knew I had been disconnected long enough when a friend asked, “Where in the world are you?”
(P.S. I learned how to shuffle cards, and make a pot of coffee that weekend, I found much beauty to be found in simple tasks.)