A few weeks ago, I had an illuminating experience. And that’s the best sort-of-pun I could come up with after thinking really hard about it for forty minutes. The story, it goeth thusly:
One of the perks of moving to New York is that I’m now living much closer to my family. My brother lives in the city, my parents live within driving distance, and my sister is in the process of moving Somewhere in The General Vicinity of The Eastern Seaboard, Probably.
And that’s not to mention all the members of my extended family, who decided en masse to go west once they realized I was headed back home.
(I’m kidding, no one moved; ours is a family of eternal New Yorkers, which is why most of us live in Jersey.)
Anyway, I digress. I have a great relationship with my parents–and I know they adore me (because really, who wouldn’t? I’m hilarious)–so I decided to grace them with my presence one weekend.
Little did I know what was in store.
There was a wicked storm that night. The tarps of the heavens ripped open and floods of water poured to the ground. Thunder rumbled loud enough to shake the house. Bolts of lightning made their errant way around the clouds, striking in brilliant flashes. It was chaos. Just when it seemed we’d lose power… like the attention-deficit storms of Florida, the weather forgot what it was doing and the storm shut off.
All was silent.
We hesitantly peaked out our door to take stock of the wreckage. Things seemed fine. We had lights, power, the storm was gone… but as we went about our business, we realized a shocking truth: our cable converter box was fried. Without it, we were forcibly, firmly nudged off the grid until the cable company could come and replace the box for us.
Verizon had a busy schedule. We were told to tough it out until they had the time to bring us out of the stone age.
So for three days, we were left to our own devices. No TV. No internet. No phone service. Slumming it like those brave pioneers of the 1940s.
It was a pretty busy weekend. I visited friends. We went walking. I read. We went walking. We cooked food. Did I mention we went walking?
And I learned something important: time moves slower when you live off the grid.
Yeah, Becca, you say. Duh. But hold on now, hear me out. I wrote a whole blog post here.
It’s more than just not wasting time on the internet. I’m used to having to rush around to get anything done. It’s one of the reasons New York fits me so well; we operate at a similar speed. I’m always rushing to get somewhere, rushing to get going, and rushing to get done, so I can come back home, prepare to do some research, spend a bunch of time online attempting to do research, and then maybe write a page or two once I’m done my research.
But without the internet, without access to the hundreds of TV shows I’m supposed to keep up with as a working member of this industry, and with a limited use of my cell phone… suddenly I had all the time in the world. I had time to think, and time to relax. I had time to sit and work out some script kinks I’d been trying to straighten out. But mostly, I had time for time.
So I spent the weekend at a slower pace than I normally do. I had long conversations without thinking about the work I was avoiding while having them. I stared out at the backyard and watched a deer meandering around for half an hour. (It was more fascinating than it sounds.) I spent time on things I’ve never had time for before, and–color me surprised–still had some time leftover in my pocket.
And just saying: having your pockets filled to the brim with time feels pretty damn awesome.
At the end of the weekend, we got a new cable box. Like magic, we had internet, phone, and TV again, and I was thrust back into the modern world. I celebrated like it was 1999.
It’s funny how we perceive time. When I was younger, it moved too slowly for me; I couldn’t wait for the day I was released into the real world to pursue my dream. And now that I’m an adult, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. I blink, and suddenly it’s 8:00pm on July 24th, and where did June get to? Didn’t I graduate from college just last month? It’s hard not to feel like my life is running past me much faster than I can keep up with it.
So that weekend of slowness, without the distraction of internet and TV, where I got to read, and walk, and listen–and feel like I’m walking in step with my life for once–was really pretty illuminating for me.
I feel like the moral of this story should be something like “don’t waste all your time on the internet” or “don’t watch so much TV.” Except I should be saying neither of those things, because if you weren’t wasting time on the internet, you wouldn’t be reading my blog posts, and if you weren’t watching TV, I wouldn’t have as many opportunities to get a job. So keep wasting time online, and please keep watching TV.
But maybe also spend a weekend keeping pace with your life. You might find you’ve got more time in your pockets than you thought you did.
And that’s the story, morning glory.