My main goal on retreat was to break free from internet-based devices for 48 hours. You’d think that would not be a big deal. But the withdrawal symptoms of “digital detox” were very powerful and painful. As soon as I checked in early Friday evening, I turned off my iPhone and stowed it away in my suitcase.
I was acutely aware of being disconnected at meal time. I never realized it, but when I eat lunch at work at my desk, I always have my iPhone next to my bowl of soup, and I mindlessly surf the internet for something interesting. At home, I eat dinner most evenings with my iPad next to my plate, still seeking that elusive interesting story or video.
On retreat, I had nothing to read at the dinner table. I started perusing the fine print on an oyster cracker wrapper and a sugar packet. Did you know oyster crackers contain zero oysters? Or that “natural Turbinado cane sugar is crafted in small batches to retain the pure taste of raw sugarcane”? Wow, I never knew those things.
It turns out the words on the oyster cracker wrapper and sugar packet were more interesting than the junk I typically read on my phone, such as ridiculously biased news reports (looking at you FOX and CNN), and even more ridiculously biased political commentary. As an aside, I’m pretty sure my I.Q. is about 20 points lower than it should be because I’ve had repeated exposure to the thoughts of Sean Hannity and Joy Reid.
In one of the workshops, the two guys sitting in front of me were wearing hearing aids and the two guys on either side of me really needed hearing aids. (I’m not sure what the average age of attendees was, but to give you an idea, I joined Medicare a couple of months ago, but on the retreat the other fellas called me “Kid.”)
Anyway, this particular workshop was perfect for my specialty: smart-aleck parenthetical comments. But every clever comment I whispered went unheard. And let me tell you, I made some brilliantly hilarious observations. It was extremely frustrating, and similar to that old question about a tree falling in the woods. For me, the question was: if someone makes a clever comment but no one can hear it, is it still humorous? I say yes.
Overall, though, it was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend that all guys go on a weekend retreat. It’s great for your soul, if not quite so great for your waistline.