By February 8, 2013 2 Comments

Does the thought of being alone scare you? Are you the type of person who has to be watching, reading, or listening to something all the time? This past Saturday I got off work from bartending at 11:30 pm and drove home in a snowstorm. On Sunday the Super Bowl had a blackout that lasted over 30 minutes. These two events helped to inspire this week’s post.

While I was driving home in the snow there were times where I was the only car on either side of the highway. It was just me, the open road, and snow. As the large, white, puffy snowflakes fell peacefully down, I remember thinking to myself; this is kind of eerie but also calming at the same time. It was eerie to be on the road without another car in sight because we are used to being crowded and congested. We are used to being on the go with others, all the time. However, being alone with my own thoughts was also calming as well. For many people being alone with our thoughts can be a scary thing because we tend to over think and over analyze our thoughts and events in our lives.

On Sunday my family left the Super Bowl party we were attending right as the lights went out in the Superdome. On the way home we were listening to the radio broadcast and commentators kept mentioning how eerie the scene was there. In the stadium there were almost 76,000 people with no lights.  The social media world went crazy with posts and tweets about the blackout. It’s as if no one knew what to do.

Driving alone on the road and watching the blackout led me to think about how connected we are as a society. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It has both positives and negatives, but I tend to think that it may not be such a great thing after all. I am as guilty as the next person. I am very active on social media, probably too much. I have cut out a lot of the television I watch, now watching only a few shows and sporting events.

All of us are so busy all the time. We have our jobs, kids, bills, and households to take care of. We rarely have time to ourselves and when we do, we often fill that time by watching TV or getting online. It’s as if we do not like silence. We don’t like being alone and feel the need to have some type of noise in our lives all of the time. We have to be doing something constantly; we have to feel like we are being productive. Or we often fill our time with mindless television or social media. It is alarming how much time I used to waste by watching TV for entertainment. Nowadays (when I am not watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) I try to watch stuff that will help and inspire me in my career. Don’t get me wrong–I do still have some shows I watch for fun–but I have cut down on the time filling viewing a lot.

We all need to unplug from our lives at least once a day. We need to find at least 10-15 minutes a day to be alone in our thoughts. This time offers a great opportunity for reflection, planning, and goal setting. It also offers the perfect time for us just sit and observe all the beauty that is in the world around us. For the past seven months I have been waking up early to run and then reflect, plan, and write. This has brought many positives. I am able to plan my day out, reflect on what is important, write down ideas for posts, and appreciate what I have and where I am. Ten to fifteen minutes a day of reflection is extremely beneficial for one’s mental health. It can be frightening for some because it feels unproductive, but it can be the most productive thing you do all day.

We live in a digital world where dvd’s, cd’s, and books are becoming scarce. Everything is streamed now and we are always so connected to it. Take a look around the next time you’re out in public and notice how many people are on their phones. I find myself being one of these people and asking, “What am I doing?” What will our society become if we must be so connected to the digital world all of the time? What if we lost power due to a catastrophic event, like a solar flare? Will we get to the point where we cannot think on our own or carry on intelligent conversations with others?

Technology is great but must be used in moderation. This is something I have to remind myself. Just this morning I left my phone at home and only realized it half way to work. My first thought was, “Crap, what am I going to do today? I can’t check Facebook or Twitter.” How ridiculous is that? Pretty sad actually. After driving the rest of the way to work I realized it will be actually nice not having my phone around today. I bet I’ll get a lot more accomplished.

This summer I am going to completely unplug for the week we go on vacation. I am going to try to do this a regular basis as well. Our minds are our greatest gift and when we are left alone with our thoughts is when we come up with our greatest ideas. I challenge you to unplug and find out for yourself.

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!



Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • pamina says:

    A very good, insightful post! And it made me smile because I live in Zimbabwe, where long blackouts have been a way of life for years. Yes, it could make you go nuts with frustration – but through necessity I learned long ago to use this time productively. It’s amazing how valuable these enforced unplugged times can be. Many of our social ills I believe are connected to the fact that we don’t spend time reflecting – on who we really, are, what is meaninful to us, where we’re going, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

  • kelmendorf says:

    Thanks for reading and sharing Pamina! Very insightful comments. I agree that our social skills are beginning to decline due to being so connected all of the time. The ability to carry on meaningful conversations is something people are beginning to lack.

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