Whenever I come back from a camping trip to Algonquin park there is always a pleasant calm that comes back with me. There was time to sit with my back against a rock and look out over the fresh water lake that was laid out below our camping site. Time to take in nature’s beauty while covered head to toe to avoid nature’s little annoyances. For two days I was away from the internet. I never once had to itch to reconnect until it was an option back at the camp office.
While I was out there taking in the sights, listening to loon calls and watching the sun set in the west behind spruce trees I thought about my connection to the world. That singular would become plural as the more I thought about it the more distinct certain worlds felt. The world of my work, my home, my family, different social groups. How the online world that seemed like another place had become less of an alternate reality and more of a second layer on top of this one. When I first got online in the late nineteen nineties the world of online chat, forums, boards, games they all seemed to be much more separate than the world of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit of today. Even on Reddit if you post enough someone can put together the pieces of who we are.
Over the years I have blogged on and off. Never truly committing to writing out my thoughts and letting them stay out there as a artifact of my emotional past. The longest stretch I ever wrote was in my Livejournal days back in two thousand three to two thousand five. In those days I wrote a lot of emotional drivel I’m not proud of. With only the benefit of hindsight I wonder if I was depressed in a way that stunted my growth. Attempts since then have mostly be met with a lack of commitment.
Even my twitter presence which was never particularly strong has diminished over the past few years. I don’t engage, post, reply simply read and absorb. In the past I have made some half hearted attempts to put myself out there more but I’m never happy with the results.
Returning to my thoughts sitting on that hill overlooking the lake in Algonquin I realized that while I did think about it I didn’t feel a connection to that world in the way I wanted to and I wasn’t willing to do the things to make those kinds of connections possible. I was far happier to take in the fresh air, clean water, camp fire cooked food. Bug bites, cuts, sun burns and blisters were part of the trip too but they didn’t diminish the experience as much as I thought they would.
There are at least three more camping trips I have planned for this summer. I look forward even more now to each and every one of them. For that “escape”? No, to return to what matters.