48 analogue hours
When was the last time you spent a 48 hour period without accessing the internet? Without using something with a screen? Without a wireless connection to anything?
If you can't think of the last time you truly disconnected, you are probably like most people in your generation who can only recall being 'offline' when they have forked out a shit load of cash to a tour company to be far far away for "5 days/4 nights/incl airport transfers".
Following the composition of the first half of this article I found myself in a situation where I spent 48 hours without anything digital. I was without TV, WiFi, iPhone, Google maps (stayed in the same place so that was easy) and even a clock. There was notable changes in how the day passed by. I wrote a few notes during the 48 hours, with a pen and paper like in the 1990's, here they are:
2 hours in:
I've stumbled upon this analogue situation and I immediately feel calmer. The that fact that this 'situation' is located on an ideallic organic farm about 180km from Phnom Penh in Cambodia probably helps. There will be no phone or laptop at all for 48 hours at least. It's been agreed that all devices stay OFF for the duration of our stay. I'm a little uneasy about it to be honest, but excited to see if I go mental or not.
4 hours in:
Since January 2016 Lex and I have been talking about memorising our own yoga routines. That way we can start stretching without our favourite YouTube yogi, which requires an Internet connection. Just to be clear we love Lesley but some yoga spots aren't near a connection. Finally we did it, spending a few hours planning it out and sweating through our routine in the Cambodian heat. It was amazing, I haven't had a puddle of sweat on my mat for years. I won't go in to too much detail but there was a definite trend towards noticing and encouraging the affection of each other. I felt more attentive and more aware of Lex than I had in weeks. That was a pretty nice emerging trend after a few hours.
8 hours in:
The hotel manager, Bunchhen (boon-chen), sat with us and told us all about growing up and living as a 27 year old Cambodian dude. His story had me pulling tears back in a few parts. Not because it was sad, but because I had a very clear look through his window of opportunity. What an entitled, greedy turd I've been in my life. He explained how his trainee wage of $30 per month at a hotel in Phnom Penh, 8 years ago (2008), was enough to rent a shared room ($15 per month) and feed himself on his day off, Sunday. Regardless of his own needs he sent $15 back to the orphanage where he received a game-changing free education in English, business and hospitality. He did this without hesitation each month for the first 6 months out of pure goodwill and gratitude. I walked away from the conversation with a much tighter grasp on my own reality.
20 hours in:
After an early night I woke up to see a low, silky cloud half way up the mountains on the horizon being burnt off by a peach coloured sunrise. I spent sometime staring at Alexis while she slept (aware of how creepy that sounds) and found my mind completely satisfied with this quiet situation. Normally I wake up alert and often find a device before I even get out of bed to give my brain something to bite in to. I was surprised when I found myself simply laying in bed staring out the window completely engaged with my surroundings. I generally don't see them past a screenful of social media in front of me early in the morning.
21 hours in:
We walked down to get some breakfast. I had an overwhelming urge to check my emails. A vivid picture of my phone screen and email app I use popped in to the front of my mind. I focused on that thought and managed to do a mini-meditation to acknowledge and then get rid of the urge. That likely sounds a little strange but it genuinely required some mental effort.
Thinking It was about 8:30 in the morning we hurried along thinking we may be too late to be heading to breakfast... When we found somewhere to sit the clock on the dining area wall read 6:52am. It became apparent that we were now letting the sun guide our schedule. An area of my life that almost always involved an alarm on a mobile phone.
24 hours in:
I knew my senses were in more focus than usual. I was using my eyes as if their depth-of-field setting had been turned up and identifying far more background noises than usual. I suppose normally my senses would be dulled by digital deluge, or at least, distracted.
Bunchhen had invited us to help him teach some locals and staff English before dinner. He has been running a little free evening class for locals and staff for a few months. I understood it was his way of paying forward the opportunity he was given to learn English when he was younger. We spent an hour or more running through conversations and hospitality scenarios with the joyful and attentive group. Finishing with dinner and a new level of happiness having stumbled in to This place in the first place, what a beautiful experience. So many smiles and laughs.
48 hours complete:
So I made it. Switching off didn't ruin my social life, isolate me from the world or put me in danger. I felt productive, in tune and calm. I made progress with my yoga goals, had game-changing conversatons, I helped out teaching English. I toured a beautiful organic farm and got a real grasp of local Cambodian life. Perfect result.
For more info about the place we stayed - picnic resort - click here. The word resort doesn't really do it justice, it's a simple and friendly place, unlike resorts generally.
Spend next weekend without your phone on. Probably tell your mum so she doesn't think you are dead and let your mates know so you can make plans to meet up without calling..
You will have to talk to people, confirm times and locations and find your way there without GPS.
You might just find yourself feeling calm, in the moment and tuned in to the world around you.
I'd love to hear about it if you take me up on this challenge - Comment below: