Monday, February 14, 2011

Pulling the Plug

Some time ago, I wrote about our habit, inspired by my wife's insistence on having quiet Sundays, of disconnecting from the world for about 24 hours a week, from Saturday evening to Sunday evening. Why? Because we write and need uninterrupted time.

Just recently I encountered what seems like an entertaining book by Susan Maushart, "The Winter of our Discontent," about her decision, despite (and because of) having three teen-age kids, to pull the plug on all media and technology. For six months. Cold turkey.

She felt that the girls were becoming "accessories to their non-stop social networking," as if real life were "a dress rehearsal for the next status update." It was a life dominated by the artifice of computers and personal media.

Using Thoreau as her guide, Maushart, a divorced mom, was apparently able to restore some broken family ties and to discover what she calls the surprising pleasures of boredom. I like that. The joy of doing nothing but being. The main thing: the kids began to stop and listen; they slowed down. Bravo!

No doubt the family ate dinner together and shared their lives with each other. The question, of course, is Now what? After the six months, will they return to their own disconnected ways, like the characters in the Italian film of yesteryear, "L'Aventurra," who occupy separate islands? Or will, as I hope, they have learned an enduring lesson about the need to unplug, slown down, and re-connect with each other?

1 comment:

Ned Kessler said...

After returning from my first silent retreat weekend (a Franciscan Hermitage experience), a friend asked me how difficult it was for me to maintain silence. The question almost stunned me, because it was wonderful. Sharing a meal at a round table in silence with six others (for example) was one amazing experience. It brought an incredible amount of thoughtfulness, courtesy, and manners. It brought us close to each other and to God, whose presence was palpable.