There’s been a jail break. Recently, I escaped. I escaped the basement. I escaped the glowing screens which bind me and beckon me to explore deeper.
I escaped the sonar pulse of email disrupting the calm.1 I got out of my basement office. I fled the Mac and the PC. I went outside without headphones, without any distractions and I walked.
I was filled with tension. I was on my lunch break and knew the moment I step away from my desk is when computers tend to break.2 But I took the chance and enjoyed the day.
With each successive breath, the tension lifted. There was no urgent ping to my mobile fruit. There was nothing breaking as I stepped through the threshold of stuffy stairway into the bright, breezy sun-flooded afternoon.
I took a walk down the block. I took in the birds chirping. I took in the cars racing by in the distance. I took in the children’s voices on a nearby playground. I took in the wind through trees and shrubs. I took in the world and listened to my breath.
I walked down the block taking in all the day had to offer me until I came upon a huge honey suckle bush. It was 12 feet high and easily another 12 feet around.
It had grown up at the edge of a dead-end road undisturbed for many years. It was covered in yellow and white flowers and smelled so sweet. It was alive with buzzing. A dozen bumble bees bumbling3 around, bathed in sweet, yellow pollen.
I stood and watched them. I soaked up the spring’s sun and listened to them bumble to and fro. They covered themselves in yellow pollen.
I listened to the bush, alive with the activity of the bees. I watched some smaller bees dance around other flowers, performing the same dance as the Bumble bees.
I listened to the birds singing in the distance and felt the warm breeze on my face. The scene washed over me with the scent of sweet spring.
I stopped and smelled the flowers. I watched and tried to photograph some of the bumble bees as they did their work.
I listened to the sounds of nature all around me. It was a quiet street. Two bicyclists whirred past me, silent except for their wheels blowing flower petals aside.
It was a perfect day for a walk. I needed to get out and clear my head. I needed to step away from the progress bars and dialogue boxes.
I needed to step out from the basement into the bright, gorgeous day and listen to something besides whirring fans, people arguing and laughing, and the buzz of electronics.
I needed something natural. I needed some peace and some solace. I needed an analog escape from the digital world I’m surrounded by everyday.
I needed to get out of my digital cocoon and into the natural world. I wanted to watch squirrels hunt for food in their constant battle for survival and incessant preparation.
I wanted to listen to the song birds, chirping and tweeting away to each other. I wanted their songs to replace the whir and click of cold metal.
I enjoyed the bees buzzing and bumbling about. They danced from flower to flower on dainty legs and blurred wings.
There is a forgotten balance. There is work and home4 balance but there is also a digital/analog balance that’s often overlooked.
With computers running more aspects of our lives, the opportunity to get away and enjoy something not powered by a microchip is fleeting.
An effort must be made to balance the analog with the digital and get away from the screens and chairs.
Take a walk. Smell the flowers. Listen to the bees. Watch the squirrels. Enjoy the birdsong.
Get outside of the rut of daily life. Step away from the office chair you’re toiling away in and losing hours of your life.
The chair will still be there when you return to it. The pile of paperwork, real or digital will still be there. The emails coming in will be just as “urgent” as when you left.
The phone will take voice mails and anyone needing to see you, can wait until you’ve returned.
Take a walk and relax a bit. Stop and breathe in air that isn’t pumped into your office through cold, uncaring metal.
Get out of the digital world and into something natural. Even if just for 5 minutes over a lunch break. Or do what I do, and when the smokers go out to smoke, go on a short walk, even if it’s just outside to where they are, but far enough away you’re not breathing in their exhaust.