For the last three weeks, since January 12th, I’ve been largely unplugged from all but my social media outlets. I left San Francisco traveling via Amtrak to Chicago, Charlottesville, VA, and finally to Clemson, SC.
Five days on an Amtrak train was enough but the rewards of spending 24/7 with my son’s family in South Carolina and my daughter’s in Oklahoma far outweighed the five relatively sleepless nights across the country.
I’m petitioning Amtrak to rename their sleeper cars ‘anything but’ sleeper cars. 🙂
I posted over on The Practical Buddhist an account of the three lessons I learned about myself while living outside my comfort zone for the last three weeks of traveling.
The Effects of Living Unplugged
To be fair, I wasn’t unplugged completely as my iPhone 6 Plus still pulled in cell towers for the majority of the journey. I also had wifi access at my sons’s house, my daughter’s temporary lodgings, and at my friend Cheryl’s home in Denver, Colorado. But traveling and staying with family and friends wasn’t the same as being in my studio attending my normal routine.
On the Amtrak train I was distracted by the beautiful vistas afforded by the large windows in my roomette. In South Carolina I took on breakfast duty with Kylie (5) and Isaiah (3) while mommy attended to Jeremiah (6 months) and and daddy made a lunch for Kylie. Then it was time for ‘Waltzing with GrandDad’ for Jeremiah and playing with Isaiah each morning.
In Oklahoma, where my daughter’s husband just began pilot training for the Air Force, we were all a bit cramped as they were in a small temporary lodging apartment on base awaiting the final preparations of their house. I, once again, had GrandDad waltzing duty, this time with 9 month-old Sarah as playtime duties with Jessica (6), Grace (3), and Allison (2).
As you can imagine, my normal routine and time-allocation was tad altered. 😉
But that’s the reward of travel. Had I tried to commit to a regular work and productivity schedule I’d have missed out on the experiences with my kids and grandchildren. I’ve have missed the beauty of seeing wild Mustangs in the back canyons of the Rocky Mountains, the bustle and feel of the icy winds in downtown Chicago, and the picaresque small towns of West Virginia. I’d also have missed the grandeur of the Red Rocks area in Colorado and the beauty of freshly fallen snow in the bare trees around Denver.
The effects of traveling in this manner are numerous and wonderful. It’s a chance to disconnect from normal routines that, even though they may seem sacred, are just the motions we go through each day in living our lives.
Traveling for any period of time, whether it be three weeks or three years, only makes us better people living richer, more phenomenal lives.
Where Are You Going Next?
When and where is your next journey? Do you have one planned? If not, why not? It’s possible to travel on very little money so that isn’t really an excuse. Plus, travel doesn’t have to global or transcontinental, it can be a day trip or a long weekend that just includes doing something different.
I have another journey planned for mid-Spring to the East Coast of the U.S. After that, I’m looking a motorcycle ride with my son Benjamin from California to South Carolina. But I’m also planning some short day trips to decompress and escape the day-to-day sameness that threatens to enslave us all.
Just unplug and go. I hope you do sometime very soon.