I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I let into my life that doesn’t serve it…or that I can’t use to serve others/G-d/my family, etc…  For me, the most clutter comes in electronically.  Even the daily, no hourly, pull to check my email is very strong.  When my husband is at home, and I have access to his laptop, I often have it set up in the kitchen, or wherever I am working.  I am constantly listening for the beep that lets me know a new Facebook IM has arrived, I look for new mail on my email account, I have podcasts blasting; taking my mind away from what is in front of me.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I do acknowledge there is some use and benefit in all of these modes of communication.  However, I struggle with its use, and wonder what life would be like without these constant pings, beeps and electronically delivered information and communication.  I am an information junkie. I can never read enough, listen to enough, discover enough new thoughts, or bits of information.

So, a few days ago I dropped my facebook, today I dropped email.  I put all of my yahoo homeschool groups on “web only”, and wrote the following “out of office” automatic reply:

This is an automated response….
I am taking an electronic communication sabbatical!  If you would like
to reach me, please call my cell: xxx-xxx-xxxx, or Matthew’s cell:
xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Or, please send us a snail mail, my children will write
back to you, I promise!
The Dragon Family at Quarry Hill Farm
320 Quarry Hill Rd.
Pownal, VT 05261

Blessings!
Rebecca

I went to visit my very dear friend yesterday, who is a member of the 12 Tribes.  The 12 Tribes are a group of Messianic-style Believers, who live in community (http://www.twelvetribes.com/).  The work and live together in a variety of different industries such as delis, print shops, shoe stores, natural soap makers, teas and farms.  Their culture and way of life is vibrant, beautiful, and imbued with meaning.  They really get a huge bad rap for being a “cult”, but I don’t put much stock into these labels.  I myself have been accused of being “unstable” or “brainwashed” because I chose to live outside of the “norm”, so I know that the accusations and insults hurled at them must be much worse.  It takes courage, fortitude and a free-thinking mind to cast your lot into a new way of life, a whole community, to the abandonment of everything you once knew.  I have a lot of admiration for these people, as I do for my friends in the Bruderhof, my other favourite modern day spiritual community.  I don’t understand why people are so bristled when others chose to live a different kind of life.  Someone needs to be the person that can cast his lot in with others, to have no posessions unto himself, to put others above his own comfort and well-being.  Thank G-d for these people.  I wish I were so brave and willing to let go of the things that still keep me in my own world, on the throne of my own castle.

I crave and look forward to my time with my friends in these communities.  There is a refreshing of spirit that occurs when I am there, a repurposing of my life.  When I am there, I don’t miss my computer, or the sound of a vibrating cell phone.  I don’t miss the podcasts in the background of everything.  When I am there, I am content to hear the voices of others, the clanking of pots in the kitchen, the children laughing and running, the vibration of my own thoughts, now much slowed down to the quieter life around me.  Instead of a day of responding to emails, texts and IM’s, a day of staring at and interacting with screens and focusing the ear on sounds coming from machines, their days are filled only with the sounds of each other and their shared life.  Their music is created together, they need each other to sing and dance in unison.  The smells and sounds coming from the kitchen are in tandem with the sound of a sewing machine.  The voices of children mingle with men laughing and poking fun at one another.  When they hear each others voices, they turn, and look into each others’ eyes, at each other’s  faces.  All of their interactions are whole, not “delivered via device” piece by piece.

In dropping facebook, and now dropping email (well, as much as I can…I still need a valid email account to buy and sell nowadays, it seems….isn’t that a bit frightening), I can hear the well-meaning objections.  “But you NEED email nowadays, that’s how everyone stays in touch/passes on information, etc…”  “Facebook can really suck your time, but it’s how my family and friends get to see pictures of my kids”.  Yes, these are all “good” and valid reasons.  There are a lot of things we CAN do on facebook and a computer that you would not be able to do otherwise (this blog for starters), but that doesn’t mean that we SHOULD be doing them.  There is so much STUFF, so much information, so much stimulation and input from all sides in our generation.  It would be impossible to stay on top of all of it, to let it all in without serious soul damage.  When I visit my friends who live a TRUE simple life, it makes me wonder how much I just accept into my life because it’s part of the spirit of this age.  I have been asking myself questions like,

-If I could never get online again to order from Amazon, or to read articles about any particular subject, would the books I already have, and what I could get from the library be enough?

-If I never saw another fabulous etsy item that I want to try and duplicate, never saw another craft blog, would what is already in my mind, and my own creativity be enough to keep making new things?  Likewise, if I never saw another TV show on my computer, would my “fashion sense” remain the same, or would I still be the same old me 20 years from now?

-If I shut down email, and require that people call me or write me a letter if they want to speak with me, would I lose contact with a large percentage of my friends and family?  Would I still get the invites to homeschool gatherings, parties, etc….?

-What would happen to my relationships with my children, with my husband, if I lived a non-electronic communication life?  Would we connect in deeper ways?  Would have more satisfaction with my daily life?

-What would happen to my ability to hear “that of G-d” or the small quiet voice if I spent my time in whole tangible things that relate to the life in front of me, lived in “community” with those around me (namely, my husband and children)?

So, I am going to try it, a baby step towards potentially shutting all of it off at some point.  Today was my first day without looking at email, and I actually was able to make some bloomers for the kids.  A long overdue project, that really only took about 30 minutes.  I made bloomers from tshirt sleeves:

For now…I am keeping the blog.  I only have one or two real life friends who even know that it exists, and my plan is to use it as a journal/keepsake by printing it out occasionally.  Another downside of our modern age…I don’t think I own even a handful of printed photos of my children, they are all electronic files floating out there in the ether.  This gives me a medium to “scrapbook” without having to sit down with shapey hole punches and stickers…but I remain open to considering a time without computer at all, at least for a while.

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