By Jill Pertler
Forced relaxation. It's an oxymoron of terms, but all too real in our present day culture. Technology has us plugged in, turned on and connected 24/7. The only way we can relax is if we are forced to do so.
That's because we value productivity and time-management nearly as much as we value cell phone apps and electric gizmos. We've even coined phrases like multi-tasking to describe our prowess with the concept of busy. There's no status in relaxation; it's practically a four-letter word.
Still, if you are forced, what can you do?
It happened to our family last weekend when we went to the lake and forgot the laptop (no Internet). We'd purposefully left all video consoles at home (no gaming). Our location was remote and lacked good cell phone reception (no texting). Storms and constant rain made the TV unreliable (no satellite).
In other words, we were unplugged for two whole days.
A slow and steady rain accompanied the monotonous tick-tock of the clock and we wallowed inside the cabin, wondering what we could possibly think of to do next. My husband wanted to know when the rain would stop, but without Internet or local television our only choice involved making a prediction the old-fashioned way: by looking up at the sky.
"Pretty cloudy," our youngest son announced. "Gonna keep raining, I think."
Our future meteorologist was right. The rain continued and in the void of nothingness that was our Saturday, I became aware of a generation gap growing right there in our living room. My husband and I approached the unplugged weekend with a sense of calmness, seeing it as a chance to relax. Our kids were filled with trepidation at the horror of complete boredom.
wasn't long before the "B" word filled the airwaves between us. "I'm bored!" The phrase spewed out like it was an affliction in need of a cure, and I realized I'd been remiss in my parenting duties. My kids were bored. It was time to take action.
I turned the page of my book and continued reading. To be fair, I did suggest an activity for them by pointing to the scrub brush and toilet. They weren't interested in my solution, nor did they see any humor in my gesture.
The day went on. The hours unfolded, and one by one we filled them. There was plenty to do at the cabin, really if you were poised for old-fashioned fun. We had books, playing cards, puzzles and board games. And, whether you call it relaxation or boredom, a nap can come in quite handy on a rainy Saturday. It did for me.
It got to be late afternoon and the drizzle kept drizzling. We decided to go to the candy store. If you can't plug into technology, you might as well opt for sugar.
A package of pecan truffles (homemade) and half-pound of fruit-flavored gummy bears later, we were back at the cabin engaging in our own versions of relaxation. I actually think we were becoming quite good at it.
Saturday turned to Sunday; it was time to head home rested and relaxed. It hadn't been the weekend we'd envisioned, but it was still a weekend at the lake. As we were loading up, I thought about the lessons I'd learned over the last 48 hours how boredom can lead to new ideas, a break from technology isn't the end of the world, naps are good and gummy bears sweet. I was sure my family would agree.
I shut the car door and turned toward the kids. "Good relaxing weekend, huh?" I asked.
"It might have been," the youngest answered, "If we hadn't been so bored."
So much for forced relaxation.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit her website at marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.