When my kids lived at home with me and their friends would be over for a meal, often there would be urgent, under-the-breath comments about “no screens at the table!” Usually the friend would say “Huh?” and my kids would explain that I, the mean mom, would not allow any screens of any sort at the table. No phones, i-Pods, hand-held games, TV’s, whatever. Many of my children’s friends could not fathom a household where this was the case and often a discussion would ensue about the merits of a technology-free zone.
Even now that my children are launched, I maintain a limited amount of exposure to screens. Why, beyond the obvious conversational benefits, would I insist on such an arrangement? Well, for one thing, I strongly believe creativity thrives in circumstances some might label “boredom”. Any of you tend to get your most brilliant ideas while stubbing your toe in the dirt, standing in the shower, driving a particularly monotonous stretch of highway? Me, too. So I choose to consciously create quiet space into which great ideas can flow.
I once read in a book of an exercise that both scared and intrigued me: going on vacation with no books in tow! “Wow!”, I thought, “what the heck will I DO with myself for a week at the cottage with no electronics AND no books?” I’ve been a voracious reader since preschool and the idea of not having a stack of books to fill the space was mind-boggling. So, of course, I had to try it! What I discovered over the course of that week was I became a font of creativity. Walking around the lake every morning in silence brought up all kinds of things to consider, ponder, solve, and create. Sitting on the dock just listening to the loons reminded me of things long tucked away in the recesses of my mind which, when taken out afresh, led to some wonderful tweaks to my life in the present. Being still and letting my mind wander at will became a delightful process of exploration. “I wonder where I’ll journey today!?”
So how about it, folks? Why not take a chunk of time (an hour, a day, a week) to live without devices, noise, even books and see what has been lying dormant within you. I’d love to hear what you discover!