Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I speak. I detox. I cut my arm off with a Swiss army knife.

I speak. I detox. I cut my arm off with a Swiss army knife.

I spoke last night to a men’s group in Georgia. (I said Georgia there because it makes it sound as if I am so busy speaking that I can only recall the states I have been to. That is not true.) It went pretty well. The only critical feedback was that I spoke too quickly and that I packed about 10 messages into one 15 minute talk.

That feedback was true and accurate. Part of the reason I packed so much content into last night’s message was that I recently went through a bit of a detox experience and I’ve got a lot of new ideas. Now my friends that have actually been through residential rehab will laugh at my use of that word, but bare me the slight exaggeration.

You see, over the holiday break, I didn’t really have access to the Internet. The crack squad at the Sleep Inn was unable to hook me up to their network so for about 96 hours I only got online twice for maybe four minutes. Perhaps that’s not a big deal for you, but for me, that was like kicking the crack pipe cold turkey.

During the average weekday I spend about 10 hours online. I might not be actively looking at content, but it is constantly available. The little blue e or firefox symbol is always waiting in the corner of my monitor quietly whispering to me, “Jon, Jon, go ahead and click us. Maybe somebody posted a comment on your blog. Maybe you need to know if your mother-in law is wrong when she says that Steve Buscemi was in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. What’s the weather like in Jackman, Maine?”

I hear that steady stream all day and most of the time I answer it. Like a monkey in a cage I click my mouse again and again and again.

But over the break, I was forced to take a pause and my wife said it made a difference. I didn’t seem as dependent on it. I wasn’t sneaking away when we got back home to check my traffic numbers on my blog as often. I had in some ways been able to sever the umbilical cord between me and my computer.

I wonder though, how long will that last? Now that I’m back in the world of instant access will I still feel instantly drawn? Or having seen the benefits of the mental space I gained by not cramming the entire contents of the Internet into my head will I limit my time online?

The bigger question is, “What would you give up if you knew it would improve your life?”

I think on some level we’re all addicts. We all have things we can’t live without, small needs or large neon dependencies that if we were honest, we’d admit we have a hard time saying no to. But recently I saw an extreme example of someone saying no to something vital to their life.

A farmer in South Carolina got caught in a piece of machinery. He initially cut off his fingers, hoping that would allow him to escape. In the middle of that process the machine caught on fire. A large fire caught around him, burning up the field and threatening his life. Have you ever had that happen? You’re stuck. You’re in a corner. Things are not good and before you know it, as you make an attempt to fix it all, the whole room just catches on fire. That’s what happened to the prodigal son. (That’s reference 807 if you’re keeping score at home.)

Read it and you’ll see what I mean. He lost all his money which sucks, but it wasn’t until the famine that he began to be in need. He needed the famine to hit his rock bottom. The farmer needed the fire. Maybe without the flames that he describes as “melting my skin” he would have just bled to death there in that field. He had been there for over an hour and the chances of rescue were slim. But fire, is a powerful motivator.

So he cut his whole arm off and lived to tell about the incident.

I’m not going to cut off my Internet usage because it makes blogging really difficult. I do however have an accountability report that tracks everything I do online and sends an email to three friends. They’ll know if I’ve reached junky status again, desperately refreshing my screen to see why four people have quit my mailing list. (I think it’s either because I write a lot and maybe my emails feel like spam or they hate sweet baby Jesus.)

What would you be willing to cut off? Is it the Internet like me? Is it a group of friends that bring you down? Is it a job where you have to leave your morals in the parking lot before you enter the building?

What type of fire would it take for you to make a drastic cut?

No comments: