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I have been a bit MIA lately from this space of mine. When I look at my word of the year – margin – I can see why. I have been taking the time I need to recover from what seems like a constant state of overwhelming crazy. When I think about margin, I often think about books, and how I want to read more of them. Then a couple weeks ago I heard about a new book that I wanted to read – What Falls from the Sky.
The premise of this book is that a woman decided that she was too fully entwined with the digital world, and decided that she would instead take a year off the internet – yes, an entire year, no internet (in fact she didn’t even use a debit/credit card during this time).
This isn’t the first time I have read something with regards to breaking away from technology. Several years ago I read another great memoir called The Winter of Our Disconnect – about a family in Australia who turned off their screens for six months. And there was this article about a man who decided to take a year off the internet and his follow up article after his year was finished.
It seems to be something I read about a lot. Why is that?
It certainly interests me to no end. I dream of a simple life, and realize that as we become more engaged with technology, simple isn’t always possible. Or at least the way I have defined simple in my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, I love the ease of finding information, the ability to look up things on my iPhone whenever I want, the ability to always have hundreds of books with me, right on my kindle. The pictures, I love to take and look at all the pictures on Instagram, it makes me happy!
But, it also can be detrimental, especially to someone who wants to learn all.the.things.
This past fall and winter I seemed to be completely overwhelmed and I couldn’t quite figure out why. We were not doing anything really different in our lives, my kids were in basketball, we had church, we had homeschool, we had a toddler (it could have been the toddler), but I didn’t see anything specific as to why everything felt so out of control.
Lately, I haven’t been watching the news.
That probably does not sound like a huge revelation to anyone, but to me, an information and news junkie, it was kind of a big deal. I love all the news. I’m not particular. I like to listen to all sides, give me all the liberal media, give me all the conservative media, and I will listen to everything and then figure out what I feel about a subject.
Last fall the news was insane, the buildup to the election, the entire process of the primaries, it was all consuming, and it was negative, and it spiraled out of control (in my opinion). I thought that once the election was over things would improve, it did not.
The negativity that is in the media, in politics, in social media, is overwhelming.
I think the problem was less about my schedule, and more about the information overload of negativity. It wore me down.
Where does that leave us here at Townsend House?
Well, I have been posting a whole heck of a lot less, you may have noticed, or perhaps not, maybe you have information overload as well.
I became so accustomed to going through the motions here, that I wasn’t happy with what I was writing, it wasn’t fulfilling me in the way that writing typically does, so I stepped back. I took a couple (or more than a couple) deep breaths and I started to think about what I wanted to change.
I have been listening to this little voice in my head telling me to simplify for years now, but it is starting to get louder, and bigger, and reminding me of my reasons for starting a blog to begin with.
It is amazing what a little perspective can do for a person.
Once I stopped consuming so much negativity *out there* I was able to start concentrating on the important smallness of my life, and my family, that I crave so dearly.
It could also be this very long winter.
The calendar says it is spring, but living in Maine I know that we are still a few weeks away from consistently warmer weather. I’m ready to be outside in the sun, working in the garden, and I am looking forward to sharing my smallness, and slowing down with you all.
I have known for a long time that I prefer to be off the beaten path, but it is so easy to follow the crowds to the paved roads where I can be swept up with everyone else, still enjoying life, maybe moving in a direction I don’t necessarily agree with, but perhaps easier.
I plan to be back in this space more consistently, but it might not be as often (3-4 posts per week) as it has been in years past. My writing may continue to be more introspective, but it is exciting, to be able to share these challenges and changes with you all.
While I hope that I am able to help others through my writing, I also largely use my writing as a way to process my own feelings, and I am glad that a few of you are still around to follow along.
Now a short book review on What Falls from the Sky.
The author, Esther Emery, is the daughter of the famed Carla Emery who wrote The Encyclopedia of Country Living – which is an amazing resource if you are trying your hand at any sort of self-sufficiency. The author ran from that way of life, as far as she could, fully immersing herself in what seemed to be everything as far away from homesteading as you possibly could go. But then, with two small children, living in Boston, she decided to take a year off the internet.
It became a complete time of healing, for her marriage, for her spiritually. It gave her a time of silence, to really be still, to evaluate what was important in her life, what she was willing to give up, and what she wants to continue to have.
I think that time of fasting is amazing. The book was a wonderful read. There was so much emotion poured out on those pages, and the trials that she had to go through during that year, and right before the year started, were many.
I definitely recommend it. I learned a lot. I don’t necessarily have to swear off the internet for a year, but I am able to do some soul searching for how much time I spend immersed in a digital world and how I spend that time when I am there.
A truly interesting read.
Have you ever considered a challenge like this? Does it sound completely unrealistic in this day and age?