At a hideaway spot where the lush jungle meets Mexico's Pacific coast, I stumbled upon something I had not known before. Not the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth or nirvana, though what I encountered probably leads to them. I found the land of "ish."
As in, "We'll convene for yoga at 5:30-ish." "I hear it might be cloudy-ish tomorrow." "Whatever I'm eating tastes veggie-ish." And that group singalong of "Hey Jude"? It wasn't Paul on lead vocals, but it sounded "Beatles-ish" nonetheless.
"Ish" was the issue where I was, on a yoga retreat in Sayulita. That's because for eight whole days, I was completely disconnected from the rest of my world. No Internet. No Facebook. No Google alerts. No cellphone. No relentless stream of email or voice mail or text messages. Not even the reliably staid portals of radio, television and the printed word of a newspaper or a clock to tell time.
The day began when the sun rose and ended by the light of oil lamps after dark, and in between, nothing interrupted or influenced my life except what I embraced from the soothing sounds of the surf, birds in the jungle, yoga and newly minted friendships of my fellow retreaters.
And mainly my own thoughts, of which I had many. Because suddenly, I wasn't under the influence of the stimulant of stimulants, my drug of no choice: technology.
On this trip, I discovered how this techno-drug has robbed me of the ability to pay attention to what's happening in my own heart and soul, just as it has hijacked my appreciation for what is outside, all around me. Technology has hot-wired my brain to think differently.
In the ramp-up to the day, it is as essential as a cup of coffee, a shower, a clean shave and brushing my teeth. Without it, I cannot keep pace with the unfolding race through the day. Paradoxically, it allows me to get more done than ever before, though never enough to turn it off completely for more than a few hours at a time — and then only at night.
Once upon a time, I relied on technology.
Now I've been irradiated by it to the point that I'm utterly powerless and totally dependent. No longer do I live with my smartphone and laptop; I live through them. My hardware and software aren't lifelines; they're anchors.
Like the rest of my species, I quickly am evolving from a human being into a human doing, because technology makes "ish" impossible. It has wiped out the space in our lives. There is no wiggle room, ambiguity or respite anymore. No free time.