Growing up in the Bay Area during the midst of the explosion of computing in the 90’s, technology has more or less become my second language – some might even argue that it’s my first. Fast forward twenty odd years and life more or less seems inundated with the same things I used to covet, like the corrosive use of cell phones and how they detract from pure and honest social connection. The good news, is I’ve discovered a lovely trick: I turn to nature, and dive into a digital detox. Whether it’s just five minutes soaking up the sun, a quick walk taking in the sounds and smells of the neighborhood without my tether of a phone, an afternoon in the park or a whole weekend away – delving into nature while escaping the calamity of the daily rat race is necessary, and practically deserves of it’s own tier on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
For me, Oregon has become a symbol of beautiful escape from the go-go-go faster reality of Los Angeles, hell – California even. It’s my home away from home, and a fresh chance for me to recharge remotely while my anxieties dissipate like fresh dew on a Summer’s day. The air up there tastes like the first sip of water after an afternoon of play while the skies have an unprecedented depth paired against the towering treeline.
Last month when I was visiting with my family for wedding prep, we had a chance to fit in a quick trip to Silver Falls and I’m infinitely happy that we made the time for it. Sitting about two hours South West of Portland and twenty or so minutes from Salem, Silver Falls encompasses over 9,000 acres of land – making it the largest State Park in Oregon. The park boasts a menagerie of different paths for bikers, hikers and equestrians, with twenty five miles of walking trails, 14 miles of horse trails and 4 for bikers. In my opinion, any path is the right path – and all paths lead to exactly where you ought to be. Gallivanting over to the South Falls, we walked directly behind the waterfall while I reveled in the sheer force of nature literally washing over me.
While ebbing and flowing throughout the park, my back straightened and eyes brightened; musing to myself that truly taking in the moment is a wonderful drug all to itself. Slowing down the world inside me and the world around me, I discovered new shades of green that I’d never noticed before while flowers danced intimately in the crisp air. The goal, I’ve realized, is bottling up that calm, collected, one-with-the-universe feeling and making it accessible when you need it the most: back in the digital world, surrounded by cell phones and lap tops, WiFi signals and mixed signals, surrounded by all your stuff, things, and immaterial material possessions that do an odd job of mirroring a distorted view of self worth. You are not your possessions, but you are your thoughts; you are star dust and dirt, and deserve to bathe your soul in them every now and again.
Where do you go when you need a digital detox?
For more on Oregon’s spectacular Silver Falls, head to their website.
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods