Thursday, December 11, 2008

Terabithia, Pt. 2

Sometimes we just need to get away...

I love the Internet. I love to do research, and read, and meet new people, and have discussions, and keep up with the latest news, and all the other things that the Internet is wonderful for. I first plugged in around 1990 when bulletin board services (BBS) were the primary connection for people wanting to reach others through the Internet. There were no fancy graphics or colors, just basic text-based messaging, very similar to today's blogs and journals.

When America Online really got going in the early '90's I was there, and it wasn't long before I was moderating chat rooms and running two groups for AOL. As the '90's wore on I moved from AOL to a regular Internet service provider (ISP) and soon found myself subscribed to more than a dozen discussion groups as well as moderating a few of my own. It was exhilarating in many ways, but also the source of a great deal of anxiety in my life because there were always problems, arguments, hurt feelings and the like, and often on multiple fronts at once. By the turn of the century I was probably spending 8-10 hours a day on the 'net. Not just browsing, not just connected while I was doing something else, but actually absorbed in email discussions and chat rooms and IMs. And often more than one at once.

I didn't really understand how I had become consumed - addicted, really - by this little glowing box in the corner of my bedroom (I was using an iMac at the time, which was an all-in-one glowing box - mine was orange). But consumed I was and like any addict it was difficult to give up - until I had to give it up cold turkey.

In September of 2003 Baltimore and many areas of the east coast were hit by Hurricane Isabel. It was devastating for many. For us, some siding and gutters ripped off the house, an enormous amount of leaves and twigs and branches strewn about the yard, but no serious damage. We did, however, lose our electricty - for five days.

Five long days. No TV, no radio, and no Internet. During those five days I spent a lot of time sitting on my back porch, marveling at the quiet. Now I live right on the city line, and it's never completely quiet (except, perhaps, when we get the occasional heavy snow). But it was for a short time in September of 2003. And being there in the quiet really gave me a lot of time to think, and a lot of time to assess who I was and how I was letting the Internet control my life.

When the power returned after five days I immediately unsubscribed from every discussion group I had been a part of, and even removed the IM software from the computer. It was amazing what a relief it was! And suddenly I came to appreciate a lot of things that I had been neglecting in my life.

There on the back porch in September of 2003 I reached my Terabithia. And what I discovered was I could go back to Terabithia any time, and anywhere. Sometimes it's through music. Sometimes it's through prayer. Sometimes it's through meditation. Terabithia awaits.

No comments: