Marolt: Off the grid
It is popular to say that we need to “unplug now and then.” It is the idea of leaving smartphones and tablets behind is enticing, to experience life again as we did when we were younger, to keep emails and texts from filing the precious metal of our lives into worthless shavings, to manufacture evidence supporting a claim that we truly understand the beauty of nature above Facebook. If only we had the courage.
I am not claiming to be brave, but rather lucky. I know a place nearby where I have been given the opportunity to stay for short periods with all the creature comforts of home in the midst of some of God’s greatest works performed during the six days he allotted for making all this and, at the same time, be utterly removed from any technology other than the ancient kind that keeps me warm and fed. It’s a remote cabin in the mountains, more picturesque and vividly idealistic than anything ever seen, even in an advertisement for Coca-Cola. The mountains are not much to God, considering the entire universe around them, but they are something else to me.
If I am honest, getting there is almost enough to deter me. It’s a long drive over a short road tended to solely by Mother Nature for many years. Even knowing full well how great the place is, oftentimes the thought of the effort to go saps my motivation. It is my family that makes sure we go. They love it so much that they could not care less about the effort I perceive of having to make to get them there. Finally, sitting on the deck in the sun there, I am grateful for their abilities to set aside instant gratification for such reward.
I am high on this place right now. I just got back. We spent the weekend there with my oldest daughter, the professional one who works in Denver. She brought four professional girl friends who swore they knew what they were getting into, no wifi and all, even though I have never taken anyone there who told me afterward it was anything like they imagined.
My wife and I got there the first time at about 6 p.m., but we forgot the keys and had to go back for them, which put us inside the cabin at about 8 p.m. By the time the place got warm and the lanterns burned brightly, it was around 10 p.m. When the young professionals finally arrived from the city, it was about 10:30 p.m., which in a place this remote, without television or internet for distraction, seemed like a fast week later than our arrival.
Since we had no way of contacting them, nor they us after we had left civilization, their arrival was a surprising event that left us with a lot to talk about. We asked for details of their trip. They wanted to know what we had been up to all evening. We enhanced with details. Without Instagram we had no device but conversation to know how everyone was. Our guests had to tell us what they ate for dinner and where they stopped, rather than sending us a picture of their dessert as a clue.
Honestly, we didn’t have much variety of activity the rest of the weekend. We hiked and talked. We had picnics and talked. We drank coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings, talking between sips of both. We cooked and talked. We ate and talked. We cleaned up after meals and talked. We sat on the deck in the warm autumn sun and talked. We alternated ducking out of conversation for catnaps. The only time nobody spoke was right before bed when we went outside and looked at the mist of stars that is on the perimeter of our galaxy.
On Sunday afternoon, when the shadows began to foretell a time we would no longer be there, one of the young ladies lamented that she did not want to reunite with her cellphone. Another said that one could never sit at home and do “nothing” because at home there is always something to do, if only because we are afraid of “nothing.”
At the moment of departure we were sad about the incredible joy we had experienced because the richness of that velvety time together was morphing into a memory and we couldn’t stop it.
Nobody said anything when someone noted that there are fewer and fewer places one can go to get away from it all to experience so much more. What could you say? It’s true.
Roger Marolt wonders if we are enabled by technology or disabled. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.