August is finally upon us and that means I get to go away on my holidays!
Time set aside for reading, writing and walking.
Time for limited wifi, boundless fresh air and incredible views.
Time for me.
I had stolen away to an Airbnb beauty in the middle of the Chiltern Valleys, a place I have never been to before but am sure to return to again.
The evening before as I began to get pre-holiday joy, I concocted a rather marvellous (well I thought so) and yet awfully risky plan! I remembered the holidays of old, where I would sit in the front seat of dads old Ford Avenger reading off directions to him from a piece of paper he’d tacked to the dashboard. This memory evoked such a nostalgia in me that I decided I’d start my digital detox from the moment I left the house!
Tuesday morning I set off, directions taped to the dashboard, phone on the passenger seat (because I don’t completely trust the plan), suitcase in boot and holiday mode firmly switched on!
As I drove, sans satnav I learnt some lessons…
It is possible
There was a time before sat navs when people used maps and signs and these things still exist today! In our digitally saturated world it can be easy to forget that although these devised can be helpful, they are not essential. I have become so dependent on having the sat nav, that I didn’t think it was possible to drive without, I felt like I needed it. This reminded me of what I said in my post about social media addiction, the habitual feeling of needing to be connected, needing the screen.
Looking for signs
One of the books I finished last week was Sane New World by Ruby Wax. One particular paragraph stuck out to me, so much so that I wrote it down:
We need focused attention to grow neural connections in the hippocampus that’s how learning happens … it allows you to see things as if for the first time and novelty is a componant of happiness … of wonderment
It’s written in the context of constant business and lack of focus. I realised that when I drive with the sat nav on, I get lazy, I don’t really focus on much because I’m just waiting for the next instruction.
Driving with a list meant I was looking for signs, enjoying the journey and the surrounding. I actually think I also paid more attention to the road and what other cars were doing! I have driven some of this route before yet noticed things I have never seen, and I did have a sense of wonder, of happiness. I just don’t get this when watching an arrow on a screen.
In my faith journey I find the more I saturate myself with the digital world, relying on that for my direction, the less focus I have. When I am continually distracted by it, the more busy life feels, the less time I believe I have to get everything done.
That is just not true
Getting rid of the distraction helps me pay attention to signs more, hear God’s voice in the midst of the day, hear wisdom calling out in the market place. I know this, I need to be obedient to it.
This was unexpected but I actually felt less stressed driving without the timer on the screen telling me how long I had or how late I was becoming! I have noticed an anxiety rise up in me when I think I am going to be late for something. This confirmation from the screen sets off my ‘beat the clock’ syndrome, which powers up my cortisol and unleashes my mouth guard! I often find myself stressed in these situations. Driving without the Sat Nav meant I just had to go with whatever came my way. The usual slow traffic around Heathrow was not a bother to me, patience grew – I would get there when I got there!
This revelation came to me as I drove, it became a map in my mind connecting ideas and thinking that which makes me anxious. Anxiousness can often be caused by a goal or a law we have set ourselves. When the goal or law is in breach, we feel anxious. A lot of my worry is stemmed from timing. That includes life ‘timing’.
Most of my worry, I have found, comes when I don’t trust God’s timing. When I believe somehow I am being overlooked or withheld from because I don’t have the ‘goals’ I feel I need. I get anxious sometimes about being single because there is a part of me that believes it validates me; I get anxious about finances because I believe they make me secure. When I know peace is when I choose to not set a time limit, choose to enjoy the journey, choose to believe He is good.
There is always grace
Truth is, I don’t always choose these things, often I get my self in a worry. Like sand churned up by the sea, I need to settle again. Yet He is good, and He doesn’t berate me. He just draws me closer, and my heart yearns to learn obedience. There is always grace
I’ll be honest, on my journey, I sat with my phone ready next to me and at one point was in the wrong lane panicked and began to use it. I hadn’t needed to, I was on the main road, I knew I could have just gone to the next junction turned back and re-orientated myself. Yet I realised how far I had made it, and the rest of my time on holiday I drove without the device. Long journeys are going to take a bit more practice a bit more studying of the map!!
Long journeys are going to take a bit more practice a bit more studying of the map, but then maybe that is what this has all been about!