Primal Activities: Getting Away From It All

It’s been a busy year here in the Phelps household. My husband, Brian, has been working at two hospitals, which involves some night shifts, and in his “free” time he’s been developing an Emergency Department information system for the iPad. I began this blog and committed to posting every M-F, and as fun as it is, it definitely absorbs a lot of my attention. We’re parents to Edie, our 2-year-old daughter. Add to all of that a social life, working out, travel, 2 cats, and a book club. It’s not as crazy as many people’s lives, and we really do lead a charmed existence in many ways, but for two introverts, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

This was our second year of renting a cabin at a quiet little lake in the mountains about an hour away. And, boy, did we need it.

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There’s no internet, no TV, no indoor toilet (read: outhouse), and no potable water in the cabin since it’s piped in direct from the lake. It’s rustic. We arrived in a tumbly old truck packed to the gills with summer clothes, beach towels, camp chairs, 9 days worth of groceries (including about 20 pounds of local meat), fishing rods, mountain bikes, and topped it all off with a canoe. The mosquitoes were happy to see us.

It was the kind of quiet you can only get away from people—no background hum-drum of traffic, no car alarms, no garbage trucks in the morning, no lawnmowers. The sun-warmed pines gave off an incense that cleared cobwebs out of the darkest corners of my lungs. Birds twittered during the day and stars peeked through the trees at night. The lake was clear and clean, cool and refreshing after a trail run or bike ride. The dock was sunny and perfect for lounging with a G&T after a dip. We had several episodes of deep belly laughter since there were no distractions keeping us from actually engaging with one another. And it was so much fun to see our little girl loving the outdoors: getting dirty, watching bugs, splashing around, playing with sticks, climbing rocks.

Our modern lives demand a lot of us. It’s easy to forget that it will wait for us to return. But if we don’t make the time and space for ourselves and the ones we love, no one else will.

Even our hunter-gatherer ancestors relaxed from time to time. Sure, they spent a lot of time and brain power thinking about food and shelter, but there were times of plenty when everything was temporarily taken care of. They feasted, sang, danced, told stories, competed in games and contests with each other. I’m fairly certain that none of them would think a pile of paperwork was a worthy enough reason to sit out a yearly gathering.

So go. Get away from screens of all types. Ditch the phone if you can, or at the very least, turn it off and check it once a day. Play cards or a board game. Reconnect with your loved ones. Rediscover some constellations. When’s the last time you flew a kite? It doesn’t matter if it’s the mountains, a beach, the desert, an island. Maybe it’s sun, maybe it’s snow. Just think manual, think real world, think verbs. Go for more than 3 days if you can manage it, because it’s only after that point that your brain starts to let go of all the gobbledy-gook of the complicated lives we’ve built for ourselves. My husband and I still fondly remember the wood gnome we invented on a backpacking trip who likes to go out and find firewood, complete with firewood-gathering song. He never would’ve made it into our lives without sinking into the experience and falling into a more nature-oriented rhythm.

And, hopefully, when you return to your normally scheduled life, it will all still be there, screaming for your attention. And you’ll have more of it to give.

Where do you go to get away from it all? To what lengths do you go to unplug?


One Response to “Primal Activities: Getting Away From It All”

  1. Sounds like a lovely experience.

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