Recharge your batteries by detaching for a while
by Ted Slavinpublished in St. Catharines Standard
St. Catharines, Ontario: 2010-07-17
Summer is finally here. No calendar necessary to confirm it given the brutal weather we've had lately. Even after my marching band years of summer parades in full uniform, whether in Canada or the United States, I can't remember humidity feeling like I'm trapped in the hot exhaust path of a bus.
There are indicators for summer other than the weather, though. If you're a teacher, you notice the excitement building in the students around the start of June. Likewise, students may see a bounce in the teacher's step around the same time. Families packing up for trips, smoking barbecues, sunny evening walks to name a few examples all point to this time of year that many of us use for recharging our batteries and getting away from our work routines awhile.
There are some of us, though, who have trouble cutting the wireless cord from the office by our own choice. Though the family will be at a secluded cottage, these people quietly rejoice that they still have cellular access to check work e-mails and texts. And let's not fool ourselves: the parents aren't the only ones who may struggle with the thought of leaving the iPhone behind when on vacation. Many children hooked on social networking programs will be texting away wildly every available second their mobile plan, and parents, will support.
Before anyone thinks I'm criticizing those who stay "connected" while away, let me just clarify that, given the opportunity, I'd probably be the first to take a gadget with me on a trip. I tend to live vicariously through my friends who have these incredible devices. The opportunities these technologies have opened were matters of science fiction as recently as 20 years ago, and their advent has gone so far as to change laws concerning our society. Some rules remain to be written, if ever.
However, we can get so attached to gadgets, games, and gizmos that we can't put them down, even when we must, sacrificing time that could be spent genuinely enriching the lives of others and ourselves for pursuits that reward us with, well, nothing. Detachment never comes easy. I recall one summer vacation when I was able to put away my wristwatch for a whole week. This may seem a simple task for others, but I feel lost when I don't have my watch on. Still, that week was one of the most liberating experiences I've had since.
Realizing the benefits of detachment from temporal matters seems to often require a leap of faith. Once the jump is made, though, one tends to realize the difference between joys that fill you up, and those that just leave you wanting more.
Bahá'u'lláh wrote the following in reference to attachment to the physical world: "Verily I say, the world is like the vapour in a desert, which the thirsty dreameth to be water and striveth after it with all his might, until when he cometh unto it, he findeth it to be mere illusion. It may, moreover, be likened unto the lifeless image of the beloved whom the lover hath sought and found, in the end, after long search and to his utmost regret, to be such as cannot 'fatten nor appease his hunger.'"
This summer, I'm resolving to take account of the things I spend my time on. I'm going to watch where my actions and thoughts may be spent more productively with my family, supporting my neighbourhood, and seeing how much I can broaden that circle. My hope is that I'll see a positive change toward the spiritual and lasting aspects of life and away from the transitory. The xBox may only get turned on once a week. I may have friends over for dinner instead of messaging them on Facebook. If I'm successful in detachment, maybe I'll feel like I'm on vacation without going anywhere at all.