Unplugged


This week was supposed to be another busy week for me. I returned from a 3-day business trip just in time to Skype with my members of my family all gathered for my father’s surprise 80th birthday. Sunday I planned to just rest before an important meeting in Düsseldorf on Monday, then head back to Berlin on Thursday.

All the while it was snowing.

On Sunday evening I received an email from the Belgian woman I was due to meet in Düsseldorf. Weather conditions in Belgium were bad, and people were advised to only drive if absolutely necessary. Although I would have traveled to Düsseldorf by train, I knew I might also have to deal with delays and cancellations. That’s why I wasn’t really disappointed when she suggested we deal with some of our talking points via Skype, and re-schedule our face-to-face for a different day. I quickly emailed the two former colleagues I had invited to join our meeting, looking forward to the prospect of sleeping in a bit later and not having to deal with snow.

When I woke up the next morning at about 9am, I grabbed my tablet to check my incoming emails. Hhmmm… No emails since 7am? That can’t be right! A quick trip to the router confirmed my worst fear: We were offline. Fortunately our landline still worked, so I used it to send a text message asking my business partner to use it instead of Skype for our planned call.

It wasn’t long before a neighbor knocked at the door and solved the mystery for us. There had been a fire at the German Telekom building in Siegen, and there was total communications chaos in the entire region. Although we at least had telephone service, many neighbors in our small village had neither phone nor internet.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. Lin Yutang

My 1pm call went without a hitch, but a quick look at my to-do list after the call showed me just how stymied my plans had become. Almost everything I had planned to do till leaving on Thursday was in some way dependent on the internet: sending links to workshop evaluations to my client, checking the train schedule, posting the “Word of the Week”. I couldn’t even sync my to-do list much less check my emails!

What to do? In a house with no television, one of the most obvious distractions wasn’t even an option. First I dug out some podcasts I had saved to my hard drive for a little distraction. Soon, though, I found myself curled up with a mug of hot tea, reading a few light novels and short stories to pass the time. I slowly felt myself relax as I stretched and giggled to myself and closed my eyes from time to time to daydream.

  1. When was the last time you left things undone?
  2. Was it a conscious decision or was there some external cause?
  3. What did you do instead of what you had planned to do?

 

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