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All Plugs Save One

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Starting today, I am making an unplugged period a regular part of my daily routine.

Almost three years ago, after spending the week struggling to recover from a rash of post-surgery code blue events, I began my final code blue event at 11:00am on Friday, 16 September 2011. Resuscitation did not end until 11:34. At the Stayin’ Alive CPR pace recommended by the American Heart Association, that adds up to as many as 3,500 hits my already broken ribs took during that final session before for the very last time, I chose to live.

Off and on through the past three years, I’ve reverently marked those moments around that time of day, most days remembering, each and every day thankful to still be alive, each and every day choosing to live. Recently, though, I made it a bit easier to mark the moment every day: I set an iPhone daily alarm to kick in at 11:00am. This morning, I moved that alarm to my iPod (since my iPhone has a mildly annoying trait that I can’t figure out how to change); I set its reminder to play “Time in a Bottle”; and since that song plays for 2 minutes and 25 seconds, I reset the alarm timing to kick in at 10:57am, so I can let the song play all the way through as I wind down, then I have a half minute to shut down completely and go unplugged.

A second follow-up alarm — currently still on my iPhone, but will move over to join the first alarm on the iPod as soon as I can have iTunes get my playlists synched as I desire — now goes off at 11:34am every day. That second alarm plays the bootleg album version of Dylan singing “New Morning.” That one runs for 4 minutes and 4 seconds, during which time I continue unplugged with the exception of that song.

[Update — For various reasons of no particular concern to this post, I’ve already moved all alarms associated with this daily period over to my iPad.]

So every day from here on out, whenever possible, from 11:00am through 11:34am, I pull all the plugs except the one I chose not to pull back then, when I chose to live. And I spend that time each day renewing that choice, and I renew my vow to continue choosing life during each of the moments through the rest of my day and night.

Some opening notes from this first day of celebrating that period daily in the way I will now be doing —

  1. No Equipment — Unplugged will mean unplugged, not merely a break to clean up my e-mail or to make a phone call or two or to relax to some TV or background music. Everything gets turned off.
  2. Light Chores by Hand — My unplugged period each day will not turn into an opportunity to get some daily vacuuming in or to catch up on some laundry or to run the dishwasher. Maybe some light dusting or a little window washing or some work in the garden; even there, though, I need to be making time for myself for chores and R&R and other off-equipment activities during the rest of my day, rather than using this special unplugged period as an easy way to pass the buck from over-crowding in the rest of my time.
  3. Do Stuff! — But while I shouldn’t use this special unplugged period as an excuse to get things like chores done that I might get distracted from doing at other times, conversely there should not be little at all that I avoid doing during my special unplugged period except for any activity that involves use of electronic or mechanical equipment. So although there will be some special unplugged periods that I spend entirely on quiet meditation or just sitting watching clouds or some other non-activity activity, most of my special unplugged period should be spent enthusiastically doing precisely what I chose to do: live! So yes, that will sometimes mean picking up Gabby’s scattered toys, and it will sometimes mean hand-writing notes that I might later transcribe into my iPad, and I might take time to play my bugle or chat with a neighbor who themselves might have their iPhone in hand, or so on.
  4. No Escape for Other Routines — “Little” else I would avoid besides use of equipment, I said in my previous note here. But like how I don’t want to turn my special unplugged time as a pick-up time to get around to doing chores I should really be doing at other times through my day, likewise I don’t want to start leaning on that time for other normal everyday routines that I’d normally do at other times during my day. A prime example there would be my daily shower: I don’t wish to start shaving (plugged into that electric razor I use) every day at 10:54, then using my special unplugged time as an easy way out of fitting my shower into the rest of a busy schedule. And no naps either. If I happen to have already been napping and wind up sleeping through, then call it a postponement and unplug me a little later down the day.
  5. Unplugged Versions of Plugged Activities — Reading and writing are great examples here. I won’t neglect or discourage writing on 3×5 cards, in notebooks, anything I can write on, even if I fully intend to transcribe what I write later on when I’m plugged back in. Ditto reading: I will be serious enough about going unplugged that I won’t resort to my electronic versions of my Bible or poetry books or other reading, but that won’t mean I won’t often be found during a special unplugged period with a book in my hands.
  6. Just Me — Like I so frequently say for efforts such as this blog itself, these special unplugged periods are meant for my own purposes. For instance, I’m not going to request nor even want Suzi to turn the TV off when my iPod launches its Jim Croce, nor am I even going to be so rude as to leave the room if the TV is on. Closeting myself away is not what I chose to live for, nor did I choose to live so that I could impose the way I live on anyone else, even Suzi. If she’s sewing or doing anything else that uses equipment, generally I’ll pause in my own use of equipment (one sample exception being if we’re riding bicycles together when my iPod enters the unplugged zone); and even taking the time to share her own use of equipment would be completely consistent with that choice I made back then; but neither she nor anyone else need feel any discomfort or imposition.
  7. Be Flexible — But as I’ll mention below for the whole special unplugged period itself, all of this is meant to be flexible, within reason. I don’t want it to get so “flexible” that I eventually completely cease to go unplugged except on the annual anniversary of that last code blue. But if fitting my own timing in with Suzi and others I live with ever means that I shower at 11:15 some morning or that I answer a phone call from Jenny on Suzi’s phone for her or that I flip some switch I forgot I’d left on or whatever, I need to always remember what all this is for: to choose life, not to choose against live. Going unplugged doesn’t mean to shut myself down. Quite the opposite.

Some days my 10:57 alarm will go off and I won’t hear it. I’ll be at church and have left my iPod with its alarms back at home; or I’ll have muted the iPod because of some meeting I’m at; or I’ll be busy with work or some other activity necessitating equipment; or I’ll simply choose to postpone my daily unplugged period until later in my day. This is not meant to be a rigid mechanical ritual that loses its meaning through routine gone cold as a rock. But whenever I miss my scheduled time, I’ll be unplugged inside, quietly commemorating the time to myself; and whenever possible, it’ll only be a postponement, shifting my unplugged state to a later time, not completely skipping it. Unplugged in the equipment sense I aim to be during that time each day from now on, but always keeping that one most important plug plugged in strong.

bumper sticker [] - unplugged

Written by macheide

27 July 2014 at 12:08 pm

Posted in unplugged

Tagged with ,


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