Disconnecting to Reconnect

By BRIAN MARSH

how my life has changed between 1994 and 2014:

  • i awaken at least once per night…not because of an ever-growing young child calling out, but because of my ever-shrinking prostate calling nature
  • i have two phone numbers…but now one of them follows me around wherever i go and makes it nearly impossible NOT to be contacted
  • i make time to be alone in solitude…but spend far too much of that time staring at my computer screen or smartphone rather than a book or the ocean or my psyche and soul
  • i connect regularly with people, both as a part of my professional vocation and for relational edification…but more and more of those connections happen via satellite, in writing, even face-to-face and voice-to-voice, but lacking shared breath and scent and touch

and all of these revelations (and more) have led me (at least for now) to one conclusion:

i’m buying an alarm clock.

why? because right now, i use my smartphone to wake me up in the morning.

which means the first ‘face’ i see in the morning is the wallpaper on my smartphone.

which also means that i have to keep my phone on all night.

which means that i remain interconnected to the internet even when i sleep.

which means that this wonderful means of real connection with other humans and their ideas and creations (and simultaneously the greatest consumer of the precious gift of my time) not only has increasing control of my attention during my conscious hours, but also has managed to manifest itself in my subconscious state.

case in point: as my phone alarm awakened me the other day at far-too-early-AM, i heard its all-too-familiar, ‘virtual-marimba’ rhythm and refrain (the ‘opening’ sound on iOS 7), and thought that it was someone else’s phone going off during my dream. only it wasn’t.

my friggin’ phone has even found me in my dreams.

‘Big Brother’ has me suffocatingly in his holding company.

so, on a recent trip home to Missoula, i decided to do something about it.

i didn’t throw my phone in the river or smash my laptop under a steamroller. i just turned them off and left them upstairs in my bedroom. and i went downstairs and took a trip back in time, but forward in being present to the Presence.

i listened to an entire album of recorded music uninterrupted. a vinyl LP on my ancient turntable warmly pulsating through my equally ancient stereo receiver and out of even more ancient JBL speakers (3-ways with 15-inch woofers…huz-ZAH!).  

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(Technics SL-D 0202 turntable…keeping’ me in the grooves since 1982)

and i engaged in this time-honoured but now mostly-forgotten ritual in the company of the one person i know on this planet who most naturally receives and celebrates each moment of life for the simple and sacred gift that it is – my son, Ian. 

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(‘Musical Jim’ displaying his usual fine taste in tunes 🙂

he and i chose the album to enjoy – ‘A Trick of the Tail’ by Genesis (my first and favourite album by them).

i took the LP carefully out of its sleeve, placed it on the turntable, gently lowered the arm until the stylus softly settled into those glorious grooves, and sunk back into our couch with the gatefold album cover opened on my lap.

Ian snuggled in next to me, and together we followed along with the lyrics (with him giggling as he pressed his ear up to my mouth to hear me softly singing most every word) and were captivated by the simple beauty of the artwork.

there were several moments where i would sing a phrase that was especially meaningful to me, and my teary-eyed glance was met by Ian’s captivating countenance, and the two converged to create a transcendent, glistening gaze that revealed the extraordinary radiance so often ensconced in ordinary moments.

50 minutes later, i wasn’t necessarily a changed man. but i was a more aware, awake, alive, peaceful and grateful man. disconnected from Big Brother, reconnected with Spirit, and more deeply connected with my son.

i did the same thing with Ian each of the subsequent 3 days (with my younger son, Trevor, joining us on occasion), and experienced the same sense of jubilant joy and resonating reality.

turning off the gadgets and turning on to grandeur.

unplugging from distractions and plugging in to the Divine.

disconnecting to reconnect.

this all makes a lot of sense in a season like Lent, where the focus is on letting go of things that may close you off to the Presence in order to be more opened up to the Presence.

but i celebrate the irony that this realization has led me to respond by holding on to two things:

my LP collection.

and my (now-purchased) alarm clock.

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(me and my musical mystic 🙂

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To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.

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i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a percussive and paradoxical pastor who exists happily (and hope-full-y) at the intersection of doubt and faith. journeying with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) whilst temporarily splitting my time between two unique and beautiful places (Missoula, Montana and Ukiah, California). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the ‘Zoo.

 

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