I was in Limestone, Maine, this weekend.
Yeah, I was surprised, too.
But Lisa had the long weekend off, and Paul has been missing his friends, and we’ve been missing our friends, too, so we made the drive up north for a few days.
Nearly 30 years ago I got a cell phone. From CellularOne. Remember them? Well, they’re still around. They became AT&T, then Cingular, then AT&T again, maybe a few other permutations in the middle, but they’re back at AT&T, and I’ve been a customer since the Earth cooled. I wasn’t about to give up my AT&T service, not when I moved north, probably not ever, especially since we knew in our hearts we wouldn’t be up there for too many years. And it turns out that AT&T has wonderful coverage up in Limestone…
But only 3G.
Well, hey, no big deal. Except that there’s plenty of service in the LTE bands; they just happen to be in Canada. Rogers and Bell, both. And both close enough to us that we failed over to their (superior) service frequently while we were living there. So we’d be sitting in our living room in Maine, paying International roaming rates to talk to other people in Maine. Or Boston. Or wherever. Not good.
Easy enough to fix. I called AT&T and had international roaming blocked on all our phones.
Except that right before we came to Vermont I had to go to Fredericton (New Brunswick), so I had AT&T turn off international roaming blocking on my phone. And I never bothered to turn it back on, since it usually involved an hour on the phone with AT&T, and we were moving away from the border.
OK, the stage is set.
So we go back to Limestone, and immediately my phone starts failing over to Rogers. But we weren’t quite as close to the border as we were when we lived there. So my phone opted for the “superior” LTE band of service, but I wasn’t close enough to get any actual service. Lisa and Paul had their AT&T 3G at full bars, but I was… disconnected.
Isolated from my electronics.
This is the part where I say, you know what, I was wrong, it was refreshing. It was amazing. It was so liberating to be free of the distraction of email and text and calls and all the interruptions we embrace in our first world technological bubbles!
It was hell.
A whole weekend detached. Without the access I embrace. Without the connections I crave. Turns out I was right on. I don’t like to be apart. I like to be in the thick of, well, whatever it is that is thickening around me. And I was frustrated.
Yes, your mileage may vary. But I’m talking about me here, not you.
We’d get back to the hotel at night and I would reconnect through my laptop on the hotel wireless, and the things that happened in the day always felt like I missed something vital. I have no illusions about my importance. I’m not puffing myself up here.
But I am saying that this understanding that people have that being cut off is good just isn’t for me.
I don’t have a Bible quote here. I’m sure there are applicable quotes. I am sure I could make a strong theological point… but that’s not this. This is just a realization that, for me, at least, being part of a community, and being present with that community, is what drives me. It inspires me. It pushes me on.
And being cut off from that community is hard for me to take. It doesn’t give me peace, in actually stresses me out.
Maybe that’s why Christ sent the Disciples out in pairs.1 Because he understood that it’s not good for us to be alone. That we are meant not just to have community, but to live in community, to thrive in community, and, to some extent, to allow community to mold and shape us into who we become.
And we’re meant to have each other to rely on. Throughout anything.
Does that mean that, even for me, occasional periods of alone-time aren’t good, or even necessary? No, of course not. But it’s good to understand who we are, and what makes us tick, and to be able to work within the framework of our own individual make up in doing this work that God has put before us.
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