I was listening to Dan Mullins on “My Camino Podcast” when he quoted “There is no WiFi in the forest, but there is certainly a better connection”. I instantly pulled over into the nearest layby and had to write that down. It was as if he was speaking directly to me and those words of wisdom sent a shiver down my spine.
Like most people, I am constantly plugged in. I “snack” throughout the day on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I hate to admit it, but even if I am in a restaurant, I find myself checking my phone if my hubby goes to the toilet. Its been three weeks now since I have listened to that episode and I have tried to take note of how much time I spend online and question the reasons why? I even found myself checking emails whilst on the loo – surely that is not a good place to be is it?
What happened to the Julia that was able to find that off switch when walking the Camino? What happened to the Julia who was turning off her phone at 8 pm, reading a good book and enjoying some quiet time before bed? It is so easy to slip back into our old routines. Or is it just me?
A lesson learned
If you have walked the Camino Frances route from St Jean, then you will never forget that first day on your way to The Refuge Orison. The climb never seems to end and to say it was tough was an understatement. When we finally reached our Albergue for the night (Orison) I was gutted that I had no signal for my phone. I didn't understand why I had no signal when both Julie (my best friend) and Rachel (my daughter) both had access to the internet. I eventually gave in and updated my Facebook status via Julie's phone, but I was so obsessed by not being able to have access that I nearly missed the spectacular double rainbow that spread wide through the Pyrenees mountains and down into the valley below. I told myself that wifi and internet were not important and that I was here to escape that world for a week. Surely I could manage to be without internet for just one week? But telling yourself, and actually trying to ignore the craving is easier said than done.
On day two we trekked over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles. It was a long day and we enjoyed every minute, but in the back of my mind I was thinking to myself “I hope they have wifi at the hostel”. Yippee! We had wifi! But for some reason, it would not connect on my phone. It connected on everyone else's phone and I was super frustrated. Why was this happening to me?
By day four, back in the UK, my husband managed to sort out the issue with O2 and finally my phone kicked in and I had access to 3g and wifi. You would have thought that I was ecstatic, but when I checked notifications on my social media sites it dawned on me that I really hadn't missed much. In those four days I had completely switched off and I was enjoying the simplicity of just walking, eating and sleeping. No work, no internet and certainly no hassle. My head was finally clearing and I was starting to notice things that I probably wouldn't have noticed before. Small things such as the sound of my daughters laugh, the crunch of the ground beneath my feet and the sound of cowbells in the distance. It may sound dramatic, but I needed to go through a withdrawal process before I could open up my senses to what was around me.
The Camino Shall Provide
There is an old saying that the Camino shall provide. I truly believe that my phone did not work for four days because this is what I needed. The Camino provided me with the opportunity to take some well deserved “time out”. Even though the first two or three days were quite stressful for me, I certainly learned a valuable lesson about taking time out.
The Camino continues to provide as I just happened to stumble upon that podcast at the time that I needed to hear the message. Being away from technology during my morning routine, and getting back into my early morning walks means that I have a new found energy that I have not had for some time. I am spending less time on emails (I have moved the folder to the back of my phone), and even less time on Facebook. I feel that I have been hibernating over the winter, and I am just starting to emerge from my sleepy state, which is away from technology and into the Snowdrops!
Are you addicted to technology?
We all need technology to survive in this modern day world. It would be very difficult to work, communicate with friends and find out what is happening with your family without the use of technology, but too much is not a good thing. What is the answer?
- Taking “digital detox days” once a week?
This video below from Simon Sinek says it all and explains why our phones are so highly addictive.
A big thank you to Dan Mullins for putting the metaphorical stick in my wheel of life and making me realise that I need to take a step back and develop new technology habits all over again. Am I brave enough to delete certain apps from my phone? I'll keep you posted.