I really like Lester Holt of NBC news. As a dyed-in-the-wool true blooded American who appreciates hard work, I admire his stamina. He’s everywhere. Recently he was absent from the weekend Today show, only to show up in Afghanistan. I see him on 48 Hours, Dateline, he fills in for Brian Williams on the nightly news and he pops up in some of the toughest places around the globe as well.
Lester, I admire your work. But do you ever chill? Okay, maybe you do, but I also see you working harder than any other newscaster. I’m concerned for you. How about a technology-free weekend?
Seriously, as an extrovert, I really never imagined I’d appreciate getting away from the internet, television, cell phones, and the din of everyday life. In the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate the quiet and freedom of thought that an extended period away from all things that crowd introspection and creativity out.
In fact, I recommend a few days away from noise. I know this might sound a little crazy, but you will find that life goes on even when you’re not available. Those “what if” scenarios (what if someone in my family gets sick? What if the person who is filling in at work in my absence needs me?) rarely happen. And all the while, you have this space of time to allow this expansion of thought that will renew you.
Start small: The first time away, make it a one or two night stay. Some retreat centers are ideal for a personal retreat experience. The first time I spent a weekend at a retreat center I had no idea how amazing it would be to be on my own for three days and two nights. I was determined to enjoy it – no cell phone, no laptop, no television. Just me and a small cabin with lots of time to write, read, meditate, and hike. I now go annually for several days.
Leave the “stuff” at home: You don’t need much. Clothes, food and a good pair of shoes to hike in are essentials. A journal to write in, a good book, and whatever else (that doesn’t require plugs or batteries) are extras. If someone needs you while they are gone, they can contact you through the center (ask about this). Chances are it won’t be necessary.
Do what you’ve always wanted to do: What is it that you want to do that doesn’t require including others? You can be selfish here (often important for servant leaders, moms and dads). A book you’ve wanted to read forever? Read it. A day to sleep in without an alarm clock? Sleep away. Meditate as much as you want? Go for it. Eat for you and you alone? Cook whatever you’d like. The days are yours, and being selfish does pay off in deeper self knowledge and self sufficiency.
Re-enter slowly: I’ve noticed that I enter back into the technology age better when I do it slowly. An extra half day always helps me to adjust to the bright lights and noise that is a part of my everyday life. But once adjusted – I enjoy a clarity that I didn’t before I left on my self-guided retreat.
Is this crazy? Only if you want to enjoy a mind that has become uncluttered and a level of renewal that allows creativity to flourish.