“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
A few weeks ago, Andrew and I joined some dear friends for weekend away at a cabin on a small lake in rural Georgia. This cabin was seriously out in the middle of nowhere. We did have electricity and some air conditioning (come on, this is Georgia in August!), but phone service was spotty at best, and internet was non-existent. I think we both approached the weekend with some amount of trepidation, as a typical weekend at home for us includes catching up on work (PC and email required), a Saturday night movie through NetFlix or OnDemand, and, on Sundays, me perusing the news through online access points while Andrew watches ESPN or the Golf Channel. What the hell were we going to do unconnected for a full 48 hours?
As we exited the Interstate, we made a stop at the local Walmart, where, in addition to toilet paper, we purchased four (!) movies, thinking we would surely find opportunity to watch them with our friends.
As it turns out, we didn’t watch a single one.
Instead, we talked. Andrew, Cheryl and Jeff cooked. I took pictures. We rocked on the screened porch and talked some more. We shooed off a herd of cows that had broken free from the neighbor’s pasture.
We shot skeet. We examined luna moths, hanging from the rafters of the porch.
I took a long walk very early in the morning with my camera and discovered an abandoned cabin.
We shooed the cows again, and we talked some more.
Jeff and I sat in companionable silence on the porch in the early morning, reading, listening to the birds and enjoying the breeze.
We enjoyed the sunset from the porch. I took some more pictures.
I had a nice long chat with the owner of the farm down the lane, who was out for a stroll with his two dogs in his role as the local neighborhood watchman.
We had a magnificent, leisurely breakfast each morning, and two marvelous dinners. We took the time to say grace before each meal. We took the time to appreciate the numerous, carefully chosen antiques spread throughout the cabin. We gave thanks for Cheryl’s thoughtful, loving preparation of our meals, and celebrated Andrew’s expertise in his choice of wines. We cheered Jeff, mechanic extraordinaire, for fixing the skeet machine, and the boat motor, and for patiently giving us all gun-safety lessons.
It was a completely unplanned, unstructured, slow, very slow weekend. It was a weekend where we savored everything – the taste of good food, the simple sounds of nature, the connection of conversation, the peace of companionable silence.
I am a real novice at the unplugged vacation, but this weekend was my first lesson. I didn’t look at my blackberry or log in to email for 48 hours. And regardless of how ugly my Monday was once I returned, it was worth it to remember the feeling and enjoy these photos again.
In three weeks I am going to Italy for 14 days. As I prepare for the trip, I am telling myself it is truly doctor’s orders that I remain unplugged for the entire time. I probably will never learn how to live slow, but I can hopefully learn to live in a less frenetic way. Going unplugged and carrying my camera is a good start.
“In truth I suspect that merely slowing down is not a very satisfying answer. What I need has less to do with my pace of life than my peace of life. At any speed, I crave a deep and lasting inner peace. And if it’s solace I’m after, I don’t need to pace myself like a turtle, change jobs or set up house on a quiet island. It is usually frenetic living, not high energy, that robs my peace of mind.” – Steve Goodier