Can you reap the benefits of nature if you’re never unplugged?

So I write this as I lay here feeling like I’m covered in itching powder. These allergies are fierce. So I’m keeping it short.

Today I took my son to one of his favorite parks. I really wanted to take the book I just started reading (book review on Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes coming soon),  but realized I can never get a moment to read unless he’s sleeping so I put it back down. I  then made my way to the door with everything I can’t leave the house without. My keys, my phone, my wallet.

But I stopped. I looked at my phone, realized I’m not that important, no one will call me and if they do it can wait, and I’ll make it home before it gets dark. And I wasn’t planning to buy anything so the wallet could be nixed to. So I left the house with just my keys.

At the park my son had my undivided attention for over an hour while we were playing, running, crawling and pretend playing violins. And when we finally started making our way home and he was calm as can be in his stroller I could appreciate everything around me. The twists in the trees, the architecture in the lamp posts, the design of the historical homes surrounding the park, the dark purple leaves on the trees. I was in a zen place.

And I couldn’t help but notice that while I was at the park everyone else seemed to not be there even though they physically were. Everyone was connected. Some listening to music. Some playing that game that everyone’s into, some just scrolling mindlessly.

I read a lot about being resilient and fighting depression and what happy people do, and one of the reoccurring themes is time in nature. Just that calm peacefulness and the ability to admire the beauty of this earth. I don’t live in the country so a lot of my “nature” is man made, but I still couldn’t help to feel calm and at peace.

Now I’m all about being connected. I post on social media just like anybody else, but I do take my breaks from time to time, because that break from not constantly being forced fed “news” helps me get to a good place again.

Recently I started tracking how much screen time I get on my phone. The time I spend looking at my phone during the week would make any pediatrician scold me for the amount of time I’m looking at a bright flat surface. So I’m trying to do better.

And one of those is staying off my phone when I get home until I put my son down. I’m not always consistent with it, but I’m working on it. And after today when I felt so in the moment and present as I walked down the street to get home it gave me that extra push to realize going outside isn’t enough.

I need to put the phone down.

I won’t become an ignorant bigot if I don’t read my cnn updates instantly.

My friends won’t stop being my friends if I don’t answer their text or phone call within a minute.

And my head won’t explode if I run without music blaring in my ears.

I’m still not sure about that last one, I haven’t tried it yet. But I’m willing to bet my runs will be a lot more peaceful and refreshing if I let my mind focus on what I’m doing instead of thinking about the dance I’d create to the particular beat I’m hearing.

Another thing I noticed, it’s a lot easier to be patient with my son when I don’t feel the twinge of irritation every time I have to snap my neck away from whatever I’m reading on my phone to the screams of “mami” or the sound of feet quickly running away from me.

If I only get a limited amount of summer, and nature is the key to my prolonged well being then I need to milk this for all it’s worth now while I’m still riding the feel good train. Sans phone.

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