I recently read this story written by my good friend, Jeff Greenwald. His world travels keep taking him back to what is known as the greatest adventure man has ever embarked on, Everest. It made me think, like any good story should do.
I remember my first car phone. It looked like a mailbox and was about as easy to use as a lithograph machine. I was so happy to make a call on it, though, to talk to my friends after paddling some pretentious rapid, or call my girlfriend to let her know I was going to be 2 hours late for dinner with her parents again. But most of all, I celebrated the dawn of technology and advances that make the life of a small businessman easier – doing more with less, enjoying that a good computer program could replace $20,000 in payroll costs. Two decades later I own an iPhone, have WiFi at work, at home, and yes, anywhere I travel to on the mighty 3G network. I try to convince myself it’s OK. That it makes my life easier to be able to read emails on the go, text staff on updates from the base of a climb, or run mySQL queries on daily bookkeeping reports while on a 3 week excursion in Switzerland.
The big irony is I get excited with clients while in the truck headed to the canyon for the day, knowing as we bend around the next corner, their 3G will go out and all their frantic Blackberrying will come to a bitter end. Then the real adventure begins. Four or five of us communicating with each other, trapped in our immediate vicinity with no escape from the inevitable eye contact, ropes and knots roughing up our baby-soft keyboard fingers. I forget about my iPhone, accounts payable, texts from anyone, and Skyping. And with great care for each other, we see each person begin to let go of their digital world too, and we adventure, from the inside out.
When we return to the network, I hesitate to turn my phone back on, knowing it will beep, bleep, and burp notifications at me, letting me know how important I must be. But for sure, my best days are ones when I get no emails. My best relationships get even better when their is no WiFi. And my adventures take me deeper inside my true self when the only signal I am getting is wildly clicking synapses from my brain to my heart.