At the end of this week, following the glory of last, my boyfriend was called away on family business and I had to deal with being away from him after a weekend of being so close to him and my friends. Since I am not very good at coping and rather skilled at escapism, my sister and I decided to go to “the lake” (our family’s lake house in the Finger Lakes). This was our first trip as adult people, going on our own without our parents to a place we’d been a million times before. And it went surprisingly well. If you have a sister, you'll understand that the previous statement is really not an insult, but actually quite generous.
What I learned from this weekend is this: the days are long when you're in control of them, and longer still when you aren't, and when you're without the people you love most. While my days were long and breezy, others' were not so much. I tried to do what I could to enjoy my time, and make theirs better where I could.
And I succeeded. I laid out in the sun and flicked the ants of worry and anxiety and even sadness away. Though, my anxieties are persistent, so time after time they kept crawling back. But instead of focusing on them, I read. I wrote. I went for a walk and listened to my favorite music. I made my grandparents happy by visiting with them for an hour. I continued watching Seinfeld and dreamed. I didn't worry.
As a young person, I hear a lot about how we are “always immersed in our screens” and how we “need to unplug more.” It’s kind of an incessant criticism. But the criticizers don’t ever stop to ask if we want it too. They might be surprised by the answer. This weekend, my sister and I both had the same goal— disconnecting. For her, it is because she is a senior in high school and being connected to the world through her phone means crazy amounts of stress pouring in at every turn— emails, reminders, tasks, more and more things she has to do at the so called “best time in her life.” For me, I wanted to escape for many of the same reasons. If I can’t connect to email, I can’t be reminded of all the things I’m not doing. Of all the time I’m wasting. And if I’m not connected, and instead have a glorious nature getaway in front of me, I also can’t focus on missing the person I love so much. I think we young people are always so connected to our "screens" nowadays for a multitude of complex reasons. Sure, we do engage socially there, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. They help us stay organized, keep on task, and it’s basically the nature of the job market nowadays. If you aren’t easily contactable, you aren’t getting the job. I think older generations fail to see that the screens we seem to love so much are also our worst enemies, and as difficult to extract ourselves from as X-Men-like wings on our backs. It's not that we don't want to put the "screens" down. It's that we can't rationalize disconnecting from so many opportunities, tasks, and emails that might get us somewhere in the world.
Nevertheless, disconnecting was as good for me as it was for my sister, and just as necessary. To do nothing is an enormous task, especially for two "overachievers" such as ourselves. We talked about how when you wake up at 8 am with the whole day ahead of you, at 1 pm you are amazed at how seemingly little time has passed. I’m quite familiar with the feeling of— the day is already half over, and I haven’t done nearly as much as I planned! But this weekend, the feeling was more like: The day isn’t even half over, and we’ve already done all the nothing we could ever imagine with it! In my day to day life, the hours run screaming by me, ignorant and indifferent to my desperate attempts to catch them. So I don't know if the lake is magic or something, but this weekend I made time my bitch.