Stepping Away from the Screen

 

Woman sitting at laptop, elbows on desk, holding head in hands.

I’ve got to get better at unplugging.

 

I realize the irony of sitting here typing this statement to be posted online. I recognize the irony of having four tabs (none of which have anything to do with the topic at hand) open on my browser as I write and that the TV is on for noise in the background; my phone right beside me in case someone calls or texts. I know I’m not the only one plugged in as much, and that there are people who are more addicted.

There’s a couple of reasons why I’ve come to this realization. I’ve been reading The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, by Theodore Roszak.  I”ll be using this book for a report for the coven, and perhaps specializing in the field of ecopsychology. The book is helping me realize how shut off I’ve been feeling to the earth’s rhythms, and how crucial connecting, (reconnecting) to nature. I’ve also found that my mental and physical well-being has definitely taken a hit with regards to the daily political and global news. I do my best to be a well-informed citizen, however, I feel as though my outrage has limits that are exceeded on a near daily basis. I’m hoping that besides the immediate relief of not being constantly plugged into the news  maybe that I will get more sleep rather than always fretting about the state of the world. Being outside usually means being physically active, and I need to stop being so sedentary.

I live in a city, so my options for experiencing wild nature are somewhat limited. With the State and National Parks under threat, I’m concerned I will lose the opportunity to go to these places. One more person attending and donating to the parks might seem to make much difference, but I’d feel rather hypocritical if I didn’t try to support those parks in the flesh, rather than just sharing posts on Facebook and my blog. Slacktivism can only get me so far.

It also affects my personal relationships, especially with my husband. When I told him the subject of post, he was surprised, and described my relationship with tech as “attached at the hip.” I certainly don’t want him to think my relationship with technology is more important than my relationship with him.

The jobs I’ve worked have mostly been computer and phone-based. I often feel like I spend the majority of the day, basking in the pale light of a monitor. Because there’s so much emphasis on multitasking, I have found that my concentration has waned somewhat. I now seldom watch TV or a movie without having the tablet in hand or the laptop open.  I retain much more from actual books than eBooks.

Furthermore, I’m trying to establish and maintain a relationship with a wild god. I can use my prayer beads and give my adorations on a daily basis but I know he will be found outside. I sometimes hear the spirits of the land. Many of us have lost connection with the wights; we do not give them offerings, we ignore the flashes of movement in the corner of our eye; we do not see the hidden faces in the gnarled wood, nor hear the voice of the river calling to us.

So, what’s my plan of action? After a few years of inactivity, I’ve decided to revive my balcony’s container garden. In addition to growing some various flowers, I’ll be reconnecting with my name sake, Datura inoxia. I’m not looking to partake of the plant, but rather just to spend time with spirit and nurture it. I’ll also be working with the non-poisonous Ipomea alba. Both of these are known by the same folk name of moonflower, and I rather like the idea of having both within the same garden. Admittedly a garden is not wild but it something I’ll have immediate access to in the warmer months.  I can outline my blog posts on a legal pad while I’m sitting outside enjoying my container garden.

Additionally, my husband and I have also decided to take more walks in the parks around the city where we live in order to reconnect and get more exercise. It’ll also be a good time to get some quality time together.

I’m going to do my best to be more conscious of the time I spend online or on my computer. I’ll probably start leaving the tablet downstairs (bedroom is upstairs) at night. I’m less likely to use the laptop on the bed, as it is a bit more difficult to lay down and type or browse the internet. Limiting Facebook will be tougher, as I do my best to monitor the coven’s public page.

Thankfully, I don’t use Twitter or Instagram, and I’m notorious for leaving my phone in another room or not answering it, so I don’t have those addictions to face and conquer. When it comes to the phone, I can turn off notifications on the few applications that I have so I’m not constantly checking my email or FB messenger. Often, I find myself checking my phone when someone else does, like cracking my knuckles, or yawning- it becomes reflexive. I’ve got a few games, mostly on the tablet and these games promote competitiveness, which in turn push me to check on and frequently play the game. After awhile, it really stops being fun; a have to,” rather than a “want to.”

I do want to be clear, I don’t hate technology or find it useless. Being able to communicate with faraway friends and family is incredible. Many Pagans/Heathens/Recons/ Witches/(insert what your path is) have found who and what they are thanks to the internet.There’s a ton of online schools and organizations that have filled the gap for our populations. Internet has provided a place for people that used to be silenced and disenfranchised to express themselves and share who they are. I’m not a Luddite by any means. However, I know that if I’m going to honor nature and love the wild, I’ve got to change my ways.

How do you balance your practice and technology? Do you feel like one outweighs the other?