Remembering to Unplug

My job is in Internet marketing and web development. As such, I’m on the Internet…a lot. The projects along keep me online quite a bit, and in this field, one has to constantly be learning and keeping up with trends. I also set my own hours. All of that makes it quite easy to spread work throughout the week. Plus, add in social networking and social media. I use Facebook and Twitter, and also maintain a few blogs. I believe in the usefulness of the Internet, but there is more to life than the Internet.

I reached a point yesterday where my stress level from the last few weeks peaked. I looked at my computer and cell phone, left them on the table, and walked out the door. I drove 45 minutes to Estes Park, which is a nice town to walk around near Rocky Mountain National Park. That’s what I did, walked around. Exploring is one of the most energizing activities for me, especially when there is no pace or agenda to it. I then drove down to The Coffee Tree in Loveland and had a nice latte while browsing their bookstore. I bought a few books on culture.

I returned home rather rested. We live in a society that has more information and connections than we could ever possibly absorb. And sometimes, we just need to step away, turn off the computer, turn off the phone, and integrate Sabbath into our lives. When I don’t do this, I feel it. I recognize that we, as humans, are capable of a lot, and that we oftentimes sell ourselves short, but on the other hand, we do have concrete limits. We only have so much time and energy. And while having discipline and focus are good things to have in our lives, life is more than something to be managed.

I don’t want to downplay the importance of work, but playing is not the time in between work and sleep. Playing has value in and of itself. And it’s not just that play can re-energize us for work, but we just simply won’t work as well without times of play.

Being always on is stressful. There are a lot of people in my industry preaching the value the social media for business and other organizations. I read one post about church that used Twitter in their church service. Yes, social media has lots of possibilities to initiate or maintain connection. But it’s value goes down if we don’t step away. And it’s value goes down significantly if it keeps us from connecting from people face-to-face, in soul-to-soul conversation. That’s another thing that energizes me: deep conversation. With all the potential the Internet has, I sometimes don’t stop long enough to truly connect.

It’s interesting for me to write posts like this, or even this blog, when I am part of an Internet marketing business, and marketing our business through other channels. I’m breaking the rules by talking about religion and sharing personal weakness. At least, that’s the convention wisdom. I’m too often influenced by lists other people make, because I forget that leadership often means going against convention wisdom. Further, on the Internet, I could argue that rules are highly subjective. The rules on the Internet, for a Christian, are no different than anywhere else: love one another. That means not tearing down people, not taking the easy way out, maybe having that hard conversation and doing so in person.

It means having that Sabbath and resting in God. For to love, I must be loved.