I did it! Yesterday, I turned off the computer. Stayed unplugged for twenty-four hours. That was the best part of the day — being unplugged. I’ve lost much of the joy I used to get from the internet — it now seems to be mostly a chore. Even the computer games I’ve been playing are more tic than entertainment. So it was great being offline.
I wish I could say that my fishing for life expedition was as successful as being unplugged, but it was hellish. I’d agreed to drive a family member halfway to Santa Barbara. I decided that since I was halfway there, I should go all the way. Spend a quiet evening at the ocean. Take a walk by myself on the beach. Have a leisurely meal alone. Just wing it. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men (and women) . . . well, my plans couldn’t have gone more awry.
What should have been an enjoyable trip was ruined by my companion’s ceaseless vitriol toward the people he believes have wronged him. And a quick trip ended up taking eight hours because we went the scenic route. Got to Santa Barbara after dark. Drove around looking for a place he could camp or people he knew, but everything had changed in the past twenty years, so he decided to return with me. By that time, I had no thread of enjoyment (or patience) left, so I came right back instead of spending the night. Got here at 3:30 in the morning (listening to his harangues all the way).
When you fish, you never quite know what you get. Well, despite everything, I did catch some life. I saw lovely views if just through the windshield — mountains by sunlight, ocean by moonlight. I learned how easily homicidal tendencies can rise in even a generally passive person. (I mean really, fourteen ceaseless hours? I might even have gotten off scott-free.) I learned that no matter how badly you feel for someone and would like to help, sometimes there is nothing you can do. And I discovered I’m nowhere near as nice or as kind as I think I am.
As you can see, today, I’m plugged in again, and let me tell you — the best thing about it is that it is QUIET! (I have the sound turned off so I never hear any of the typical computer noises.)
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.