A fellow I admire, Andy Crouch, tweeted not too long ago (is there a verb that represents updating your Facebook status?) a comment that sticks with me like that popcorn husk firmly nestled somewhere between your molar and your canine:
Who is the most effective person in your sphere of culture? Chances are they exercise outdoors more and watch TV less than you do. And in ten years we will add, they take more regular technology sabbaths. (The comparative advantage of technobusyness is disappearing.)
I found it frustrating, mostly because I don't regularly exercise outdoors and I typically watch TV to wind down and I don't take tech sabbaths. Ergo, per Andy Crouch, I could be more effective (whatever that means). But I suppose necessary messages often come across as nuisance, because as much as I've resented the poke, I've found myself looking for opportunities to get outdoors more, and I've tried to resist the urge to turn the TV on at the end of the day (to limited effect, I freely confess). The tech sabbath is a different thing, because in the rush of the last month, the moments of contemplation have been those stolen moments when I've scrolled through my twitter feed; my moments of confession or self-expression have been when I've updated my status or posted a picture. My maintenance of community has been dependent on my access to phone and e-mail and other social media. Such is life in the age of ephemera: we live and move and have our being at a brisk pace--forgetting what is behind us as we press on toward some nebulous goal.
I'll get some breathing space soon. Barring any last-minute urgencies, Monday begins my first full week in the office in six weeks or so. But if I've learned anything in this marathon month, it's that I can subsist but not exist on my own, in my own strength; it's only to the extent that I tether myself to a place and some particular people that I maintain a healthy sense of self, and a rightly ordered relationship with the world around me.