by David Bledsoe, DVM
One of the few things upon which our two political parties can agree, is the necessity of regaling one's children with how hard we had life growing up. We are fond of talking about television back in the day. Three channels all black and white and I was the remote. "David", my old man would say, "go change the channel. Ironsides is on."
Eventually we had color TV and if you had a decent set you could pick up channel 20 in my hometown of Washington DC, where at 11pm you could watch The Benny Hill Show ("starring Benny Hill a host of your favorite stars", none of whom we recognized but that's not why we were there, if you catch my drift.)
We have always liked to be passively entertained. First it was radio then television. Now it's computers and smart phones that dumb us down. I think it actually began with cave people, where Zog used to sit and watch his one channel on the cave wall. (Probably Curling or something)
But humans, while we may *desire* passive entertainment, have always had the *need* to be active. We are wired that way. Back when it took all your energy and wits to simply survive long enough to get your genes inside the jeans of the lass two cliffs down, you didn't have time for hobbies. Your hobby was just living and if you were lucky, reproducing. While reproductive pursuits are not at all trivial, today we have enough free time that we have a choice. We can be passively entertained or we can choose to be engaged in mind and body.
For me, such engagement involves anything outdoors and it always carries a spiritual dimension. I may be hiking a trail in Sedona and marvel at the unseen - even divine - forces that carve butte and mesa. I may be in the Agua Fria and see petroglyphs carved a millennium ago by the ancestors of modern pueblo cultures and wonder how they saw their world. They eked out a living but still had time to see a universe beyond their own. I may camp on the north Rim of the Grand Canyon , I may boat on Lake Powell or I may simply sit outback with a refreshing adult beverage; but my screen free time is full of the largest screen of all. The heavens. For me they "declare the glory of God." Not some black flannel graph God neat and tidy and harmless, but a God too big to fully comprehend who unleashed forces of physics even the brightest minds of the Age are only beginning to understand. As Bob Bryan (a friend of mine, you don't know him) said "Nature is cool as shit."
So for me, unplugging means being outdoors. What does it mean for you? How do you rest and recharge and decompress from the desperately depressing existence that screams at us through our screens?