This is a post about panic. And technology. And being connected, over-connected, and disconnected. And resolutions. And living in the present (well, trying to live in the present).
I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days riding my bike in the Florida Keys (for the second time!) This time I was determined to be totally present and not succumb to the desire to document every moment. I wasn’t checking my email, I wasn’t on Facebook (much), I wasn’t texting…I thought I was doing great.
Until I camped on the deserted island.
Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square mile park in the Gulf of Mexico, almost 70 miles west of Key West (it’s mostly water). It’s home to Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the United States and is accessible only by boat or seaplane. That is to say: There’s no cell service.
The island is beautiful. The fort has an actual moat with an actual crocodile. The water is turquoise, cobalt, indigo, cerulean, azure. There were less than ten people camping on the island that night.
What an unbelievable privilege.
Yet, as soon as the boat left at 3pm, I panicked. What was I going to do on this island for 24 hours? I had good friends, a good book, a bathing suit, a bottle of whiskey, and I was surrounded by breathtaking scenery, yet I was genuinely panicked at being disconnected.
So I took a nap.
I woke up around twilight. I walked around the moat while the sun was setting. The 140-year old bricks were lavender in the filtered light, the water looked like glass, and I was alone. I resisted the urge to record. Instead I reveled in the quiet. I walked over two miles in the dimming light and let myself be completely in the moment. It is one of the best memories of my life.
There are no photographs.
I went back to camp and drank a bottle of whiskey with people I love IRL. I experienced relentless howling wind and wet socks and a huge bright moon and swimming on my own private beach and poking at hermit crabs and crocodile hunting: all without Facebook or Instagram or email or endless text messages.
I want to resolve to have more moments like that in 2015. When I ride my bike or read or simply daydream, my phone is going to be somewhere else. I’m no longer available 24 hours a day. I’m done with technology making me feel lonely and disconnected.
And at least put your d**m phone away while you eat dinner.