I am back. Two weeks ago we left Melbourne heading north to Cairns. Since we moved to Australia, we always wanted to go to the Great Barrier Reef, finally the wish came true and it was great. I felt really grateful for having the opportunity to go and see those natural wonders.
During that period, we stayed a couple of nights in a farm and guess what? No phone signal, no Wi-FI and not even a TV in our cabin. What a rare opportunity. Today I just want to share some thoughts around this topic and my experience.
After several days around the Cairns area (which is part of Far North Queensland here in Australia), we decided to go to Cape Tribulation further up north; it is located within the Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. It is full of natural wonders: trees everywhere, beautiful rivers and beaches, amazing plants, crocodiles and many other creatures. Having said that, it is a very small “town”, according to the 2016 census, there were only 118 people living in this area.
Our accommodation was at Cape Trib Farm. This is an off-the-grid farm, they grow amazing tropical fruits and of course we loved the fact that they try to live in a sustainable way as much as they can. The owners are super nice, they have trees everywhere, they grow all sorts of fruits. Incredibly, we found several fruits that we used to eat in Venezuela and we hadn’t been able to find here in Australia. Trying sapodillas (we call them Nisperos) after perhaps 12 years was certainly a great experience for our souls and brought back lovely memories.
Anyway, we found ourselves staying in this nice cosy cabin, but completely disconnected. It seems Internet (slow and limited) is extremely expensive in the area because again they are in the middle of no where. The owner said they only had dial-up not long ago – we were really shocked.
Without any distractions, our experience during that period was even better, we had more time to appreciate our surroundings. In the evening, we could hear all sort of weird noises, insects, birds, the branches of the trees moving. During the day we could appreciate amazing trees and plants, in and outside the farm. In the shared areas we could have great conversations with the owners and even other guests staying. Our only distraction were some books we were reading at night, stopping here and there to appreciate the lack of man-made noise outside.
I don’t know, I somehow felt liberated. Liberated from something I had decided to use, habits I had created. Being in that state helped me to admit that part of me felt somewhat “slave” of my own phone. And look, I am not the kind of person who spends hours online everyday, look at the phone in the middle of every conversations or can’t stop checking social media every half and hour. I’d say I am perhaps “average”, but perhaps average these days is way too much.
“Time spent among trees is never time wasted” – Anonymous
After those days in Cape tribulation, we started driving south again and at some point my phone was up and running again. Instead of feeling happy to be back online, I felt I didn’t want to know about it, I didn’t want to look at the screen at all, I actually tried to avoid it as much as I could for a while.
That was really interesting, first time I felt that way or at least first time I was aware of that feeling of rejection. I decided to call it serendipity, because I believe deep inside we know our truths and what’s best for us, only that often we choose to ignore it.
Amazingly, the day after we arrived to our next stop, my phone stopped working. So I spent the rest of my holidays phone-free, and even when I am not happy that my phone broke, I am glad I spent the rest of my break offline.
I don’t know if this is the case for you, but I often find myself browsing the phone, looking for news, updates in social media, messages on my WhatsApp, notifications and so on. If my computer is on, same thing, I bookmarked all these sites I often check and follow similar pattern.
So much information hitting us from so many directions. Think about it, the amount of information someone got 100 years ago in 6 months or a year, is perhaps what some people these days get to read in a day.
Often we end up learning so much stuff, some we don’t even want to know. How many times have you read something online that you had no idea, but add little or no value to your life? And we may say we don’t actually click the articles, but only reading the headings and the brief summary that some sites show, is enough to grasp a lot of stuff.
When I started studying at uni, I had my first mobile phone. I was excited with my heavy (thanks God not that bulky) friend, but it only gave me the ability to call my family or friends, no apps, not even text messages. That phone was always in my handbag, I only reached it for calls.
How different things are these days! It is amazing how technology has advanced in the last few decades. Smart phones are extremely useful, but there is a catch! We have become so dependant, so absorbed, so distracted and ironically often disconnected from the real world, the people around us and nature, which are the stuff that really matter.
You are maybe wondering what this topic and story has to do with the planet and the environment, well I believe that we can’t care about the things we don’t appreciate and often our distractions (including our phones) gets in the way of that process.
When we are present, we can appreciate, and when we do, we reconnect with nature, and when that happens is magic because we understand its value and how we are part of it, therefore we start caring and protecting it.
How many times have you been in an amazing natural place and seen people taking photos/selfies and then leave quickly when that’s done? I know phones are not the only thing to blame, because in general we are actually very disconnected from our surroundings and nature in general, but I think phones certainly add to it.
It is the same with our relationships and our lives in general. When we are so distracted getting random information, paying attention to what others are doing in social media, or numbing ourselves for hours watching videos, we have little time to be focused or live more intentionally with the world around us.
Of course I am not an anti-technology and I am not saying I’ll ditch my phone forever, but this experience has helped me to reassess my “relationship” with it, the time and the energy I am spending on it and how it is draining me.
At the moment, I haven’t been able to fix my phone, so I am using an old one we had at home. It is slow, the operating system is old and of course it doesn’t have the capability for me to install everything I had in my previous phone, but I think I am enjoying the fact that I have just few apps, almost no social media (only Instagram to be able to operate my GreenerIdentity account) and that’s it. I am not using it that much and I am ok with that.
I know it is ironic, I am talking about about info overload and I am here putting more information on the internet, however I like to think that someone out there is reading these lines and perhaps learning something, getting at least a different perspective, and who knows, maybe inspiring a little bit of change. I hope I am not overloading you with non-sense information, I hope that by sharing my story, you can also reflect on you own experiences and perhaps, who knows, we can all disconnect more to reconnect with nature, with our planet, with our home.
Thanks for reading,