Some months ago, as we were having dinner with our friends and their two kids, they were telling us about their plans to go camping over the summer. They’d gone before a few times but it would be their first time since having children. They floated the idea of all of us going together and while we hummed our assention to think about it, internally we were full of doubts. For my wife and I, the thought of being out in the forest in tents sounded fun but unrealistic for our lifestyle of mostly staying inside our comfort zone.
Not long after, and likely knowing that we might just need a little push, they told us they’d made a booking for four adults and four children at the end of July.
Skipping ahead a few months to three days ago, we’ve come back home from our first camping trip. It was an amazing experience. I could write at length about the actual camping, but what I loved about the experience the most was escaping my digital life. I turned off my data as soon as we arrived and not a ding was heard nor a buzz felt for three days. Once each morning, I turned on my data to post one-word updates to my scripture-reading clubs on Telegram, but for the better part of three days, I was completely disconnected.
The immersion that I felt was a breath of fresh air. In each activity, I was wholly present. Distraction and thoughts from within still came, of course: I didn’t suddenly become one with the universe. However, without a means to act on that distraction by taking out my phone and opening up Feedly, for example, it was a much quicker route back to the present. I’m someone who uses his phone throughout the day to multitask and fill downtime with listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, reading news, and managing to-do lists and finances. With the decision to keep the phone absent, single-tasking became the norm and downtime was felt for what it was. Observing the stars became my YouTube, chatter from birds and neighbouring campers became my Stitcher, and my own thoughts/observations became the news.
We’re going again in a few weeks and I’m very much looking forward to reliving the experience.