Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I gave up the internet for Lent.

This past Shrove Tuesday I was trying to think of something to give up for Lent. Chocolate and candy and junk are the old stand-bys, but I wanted to do something different. Last year I gave up making excuses for not exercising and just do it and that went very well. I also committed to praying while I walked, instead of listening to my Ipod, and there were some good conversations.

In the end, I decided to give up the internet. In fact, at the last moment, I decided to give it up. So last minute, in fact, that I couldn't even write a post about it.

No computer, except for emailing and banking and help with schoolwork - I didn't think I could notify the school, bank and emailers in time, nor would they care about my sacrifice.

It was a long 40 days. I had no idea how much time I spent in front of this screen...mostly just reading and surfing. It was automatic to go to it many times a day.

I missed the bloggers terribly and often wondered what was happening in their lives. Especially since I knew about upcoming events, ie: BooMama's trip, baby Avery and Easter. I thought about the bloggers a lot, knowing their lives were going on and I wasn't "in" on anything.

I learned I use the internet a lot for general information and fact-finding. Topics originating from conversations, TV shows, magazines and general news. Wikipedia is great and was sorely missed. For me, the computer has thoroughly replaced the phone book/yellow pages, watching weather forecasts, dictionary/thesauras books, encylopedias and any other type of resource material. It's my first stop to find anything.

At the same time, I also gave up watching daytime TV - even Oprah and Dr. Phil. Let me clarify, I have the TV on for company, I truly do, an old habit picked up from my Grandmother. So I tried to listen to the radio, which is a lot more local with information, and CDs or just quiet. The no daytime TV wasn't a part of lent, but it seemed to fit in with reducing the electronic bombardment.

So, what happened to me, aside from realizing my addiction to this very small screen?

I wish I could say that my life changed forever, in wonderful ways, but it didn't really. I read a lot more books which really isn't a good thing, as I read a lot already. I'm an obsessive reader, almost addict-like. When I have a good book, all I want to do is read and do nothing else. To the point when I could almost resent the intrusion of my life on my reading time. I try to read a little everyday, but I get so involved I don't want to let go. So all the extra time wasn't good in the beginning. I read compulsively for the first couple of weeks, but then I ended that.

I liked the quiet. That was nice. No white noise. It's amazing how noisy white noise is. I think that was the best part. Enjoying the quiet. I'm hoping I'll keep that up. And now that I know my tendency to sit and surf, I think I have to monitor that a bit more closely until new habits are formed.

One thing for sure is that I got to bed at a more reasonable hour on a more regular basis. That was good. And a trend I really should continue.

I think the thing that changed the most was that I spent more time in my life than in other people's. Nothing physically changed. I have to have a very low-key lifestyle to maintain a low stress level for health reasons. But mentally I was more present. Not emotionally, since unfortunately, I'm always present emotionally. Just mentally. Living my life, not reading about others' lives and (sometimes) living vicariously through them. That is a big thing for me. An active imagination is not always a good thing. It can take you out of your reality for too long and too far away. I was more present for me and then, I can only assume, for others.

That's not a new lesson for me. But one that is worth hearing again.