This week I disengage—I trade-in my laptop, desktop and cell phone for books, bike, beach chairs, coolers, magazines, Frisbees and Guinness. Sea Isle City, New Jersey; eleven of us—kids, grandkids, wives, significant others and whoever else drops by. Relax, no serious reading, writing or blogging; just beach, cycling, games, golf, running, rides, dominos, bocce and a lot of partying.
The family decided to celebrate my birthday at the shore because it was impossible to get everyone together weeks earlier with all the different schedules—work, T-ball games, weddings and other conflicts. I get an iPhone as a present and have a flashback—a flashback from my past life when, as a manager, I was expected to be plugged in seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The day I got my Blackberry, was the day I could no longer disengage.
Life as a Defense Department manager in the post 9/11 era was complete and utter madness. One Saturday morning in October 2001, I went for a run and left my work cell phone in my Jeep. It was the first time I’d been without my phone since the attacks–for two, maybe two and one-half hours. When I returned, I had thirteen messages; from Boston, Washington, DC, California, Iowa. That morning I began to plan my escape from the insanity of a life that was no longer my own.
Today I returned from a long run on the beach and my kids threw sand balls at me, told me my hair looked like Bozo the clown’s, and then handed me a Guinness. I sat under the cabana and played with my iPhone. I am no longer unplugged. I’m blogging on vacation, Guinness in my hand, kids laughing, grandkids playing and I have a smile on my face.
I suppose it is possible to be plugged-in without being stressed. Like everything in life, it is a matter of perspective.