Just Press ‘Off’

Today was a day of overthinking and plugging in a few too many times. The CWC Sci-Fi project is about to officially launch on Friday, I have editing work coming at me from all angles, and I had to go to Costco. Doesn’t sound like a terrible day of work, except for the closest Costco is 45 minutes away. On a good day. That was the cherry on top.

It was not a good day for traffic to Costco, when all was said and done. I am very happy with the co-op in our town, fresh local food that I can buy at the most once a day to feed half of my family. The other half, however, have four legs and a tail each, and their food comes from Costco. So I make a trip every two to three weeks for dog food, and today it was only for dog food. My husband and I were not in need ourselves of anything in surprising bulk.

I had spent the majority of my morning sending update emails, posting to various social networking sites, and making sure that everything and everyone was in order for the Sci-Fi project. The owner Laura and I found one tiny little blip, which turned out to spread exponentially into hundreds of other little blips. She lives in New York, and I in California, and so our communication for quick subjects tends to fall under the responsibility of our cell phones. We had been texting back and forth for a few hours, brainstorming the bug fixes and the plot lines and the placement of information we were willing to make public. I was getting really flustered as time went on, trying to get the dishes cleaned and the dogs walked, explaining things to Laura, and preparing for a three hour adventure for dog food. My brain scrambled all over the place, and I realized that I’d put my shirt on inside out.

I’ve only made the drive to Costco once before, so I had to plug the address into my phone’s GPS to get there. I have a few books on tape, and was only too excited to be able to veg out on those as I drove. It’s almost impossible to get the radio in the car through the Sierras in certain areas, and I hadn’t updated my phone with the new music that I wanted to listen to. It turned out that my book on tape had only twelve minutes left, and that I had zero others in my library ready to be played. So the drive continued in silence.

Construction, the lunch rush, and one lane roads turned my 45 minute drive each way into a 70 minute drive each way. The Costco was more of a madhouse than usual, and one lady, who must have been close to 80 years old, actually tried to run her cart down the isle so she could beat me to the book section. She needed to be there before I did so we could both look at the books. I stood in line for ten minutes just to purchase a 35 pound bag, and then reversed the process and headed back into the maze of drivers. Back to my GPS, and I finally conceded and listened to some albums that I already knew by heart.

I had a few more requests from clients for my time going over some work, and after the first round of emails that somehow left me even more confused, I had to get away from the computer.

I put my phone down, left the tablet and the laptop, and took a walk down the street.

Booktown Books in Grass Valley is a used book co-op, which sells book collections from eleven different stores in the area. It is almost impossible to navigate one’s self through the dangerously stacked shelves and walls and floors of books, until one realizes that it is all incredibly well-organized by chaos. And I absolutely love it. Any world of books where I can simultaneously get lost and entertained is a rare find, and I roamed the shelves for almost an hour. I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t think about work. I looked for my favorite authors and series, glanced in the Rare Books Room, touched the faded spines of the ridiculously old nature survival guides and children’s stories.

And I felt myself breathe.

I walked to the grocery store, carried home a paper bag with my dinner inside, and sprawled out on the porch in the shade with the dogs.

And I felt myself breathe.

Gave myself a moment.

I was able to sit down and write this, today, because of the two and a half hours I took just for myself, to be in the fresh air and the quiet and enjoy the company of whomever I happened to be around. I took some time to press the off button.

It’s been a long time since I was more concerned with what was happening online, or in my phone, or in my head that needed to be shared through our growing technological communication. Today reminded me why I started my business in the first place. There are plenty of people out there who get the “plug in itch” like this more frequently than I, plenty of people who don’t have the resources or understanding to be able to take that time out of their schedules and devices. So many people have yet to master the art of the “break”, cannot fathom what it is like to care for themselves in the way humans have been doing it for years; a simple walk, a fresh meal, playing with their dogs. I am by no means a master at this, either. I still forget the simplicity of this action, the answer to the overly-networked, overly-plugged in professional. But the point is that I can, at moments, realize what I need and do that for myself. I can admit it, can share it with my colleagues and coworkers, can connect on a level that says, “Hey, I think we’ve been going at this intensely for a bit too long. Let’s take a break, take care of ourselves, and come back when we’re feeling refreshed.”

I’ve never had someone tell me they didn’t think that was a good idea.

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