Unplugging from Electronics and Plugging in to Nature

A week ago, I returned from a five-day retreat, held at the Audubon Center for the North Woods. It’s a beautiful environmental education center, situated next to one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and featuring more than 500 acres of forest, wetland, and prairie.

In addition to the natural beauty of the location, there is another notable feature of this wilderness location.  It is so remote that there is no cellular phone coverage. Let me repeat that: There is no cellular phone coverage.

As I feared (see previous blog entry), I went through TWS (technology withdrawal syndrome), a condition which often follows a long bout of NDD (nature deficit disorder).

Here are some examples of the symptoms I experienced:

  • When I wanted to know the current temperature or the forecast for later in the day, I thought immediately of logging on to the National Weather Service’s online site. Then, I realized that I’d have to figure it out on my own, by going outside and studying the sky.
  • When I met new people at the retreat, I wished I had access to Google so I could learn more about their backgrounds, interests, and professions. Instead, I had to decide which questions were really important for our conversation. I eventually realized that most of the information I would have found with a Google search wasn’t really relevant or important to our new friendship.
  • When I found myself wondering about a subject about which I had very limited knowledge (e.g, the lyrics to a song, the definition of a new word, the identification of an unknown plant or bird song), my first response was to reach for my iPhone to surf the net. Instead, I simply had to live with the uncertainties or try to figure it out for myself.
  • Perhaps the biggest problem for me was to be out-of-touch with my children. Even though my four sons are independent, resourceful, and competent young adults, I’ve gotten used to the ability to communicate with them at any time by phone, by texting, or by e-mail. For those five days, I had to trust that they were getting along fine, even when the electronic umbilical cord was cut.

In a future post, I’ll write about some of the things that I discovered, once my addiction to the online world had been tamed.

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Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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