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Mocha Musings: Unplugged and liking it

My laptop went on the fritz two days ago. There was nothing to be done other than take it into the repair shop and hope for the best. I could only hope it wasn’t a major loss since, like most of us, I am not as disciplined as I should be about backing up. I handed it over the counter, after having been promised that they would call me when it was ready.

The next morning, I walked into the kitchen, ground a handful of fair-trade Guatemalan coffee beans and brewed a cup. Then, as I always do, I walked into the dining room to start my routine. You know, scan the morning headlines, maybe read a few in-depth articles in the N.Y. Times, and answer some emails. Except that there was no laptop. So, I turned on my cell phone (which I do not use for data and which doesn’t go online) and checked for messages. Frustrating. No news and no messages to check. A bit unnerving.

I got up from the table and suddenly realized that I was free. Free from spending the first 30 minutes or more of my morning locked on a computer screen, free from headlines blaring out the latest inanities and atrocities that have screeched at us daily since the last presidential election.

I took my cup of coffee outside and sat down in a chair on my balcony. I looked out at the valley as it was waking up bathed in the morning sunlight, the hills lovely in the early summer colors. If I squinted, I could just make out some large swaths of wildflowers on the faraway hillsides. My dog came to lie at my feet in the small slice of sun that now hit the balcony, the warmth a comfort for his arthritic bones. I got up and took my time watering the potted plants and noticed a bright pink peony that had opened since the day before.

I cleaned my kitchen, sat down, and made a long to-do list, brushed my dog, and left to do some errands. By the end of the day, I had not missed having my laptop at all. I did check for email twice at a friend’s house, but otherwise, was content to be without all that “noise” in my brain.

Today is day two of no laptop. Again, at the start of the day, a momentary sense of “un-connectedness.” But this morning, I was struck by another feeling as well. I remembered quite profoundly how I used to spend my mornings before we became so attached and dependent upon our personal computers and the internet. I used to get up, make breakfast and NOT sit in front of a screen for the first hour of my day. I used to look around my environment and take more time with things around the house. Do you recall those days? When we used to make breakfast and focus on what we were doing without the distractions of our cell phones and notebooks and laptops?

I have found it a refreshing change and plan to keep it that way. After my computer comes home, I won’t boot up until after breakfast. I have enjoyed reclaiming my morning from the long arm of technology that controls our waking moments these days.

I find that watering my plants and listening to the morning call of the birds in the trees is a much nicer way to start the day.

Author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at bit.ly/adtssmm. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.

Photo by Beatrice Angela JacobsSusanne Severeid