I have a policy to never work on my birthday, which is tomorrow. I tend to use it as a mental and spiritual MOT – How was last year? How am I? What comes next? I try to spoil myself somehow, take myself out on a date, meet my friends as near the day as travel and schedules allow (this part tends to get protracted, which is no bad thing).
Today, I was online nearly all day, other than short breaks to wander, eat and stretch. There was writing to do, emails to send, schedules to confirm. Oy. And as I made popcorn, I read an article in Newsweek about how we’re all addicted to the internet.
No doy, I thought, because that’s how I talk in my head. But what else to do? I could not do the work I do without the internet – and besides, would inkwells, blotters, ledgers and carbon slips really be so superior?
Beyond work though… ah, there’s the rub for (as Hamlet might have said if things had worked out differently) all my friends live far apart, and I’ve forgotten what else to do with myself.
Here is a heavily abridged list of things that I used to do, just because they felt fun:
- write poetry and short stories
- draw and make collages
- quilt (or at least cut fabric into well-intentioned pieces)
- sing jazz standards to myself while making tea
- remake clothing
- cook without recipes
Here is what I do now:
- read novels
- watch TV
- stare at the internet and hit Refresh
And when I realize that this is a problem, what do I do? I turn it into work.
So this year, as a present to myself, I’m unplugging. No email, no smartphone – actually, no phone at all! I’ve got a sheet of paper with times and addresses on it, and a list of emergency phone numbers. My wallet looks like it’s the nineties in there. I’m taking myself away from emails and Facebook, going off-Google-map and out for an adventure and you know what?
I’m a tiny bit nervous and a whole lot excited.