Long Way Round

Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman chronicles their motorcycle trip around the world – London to New York via Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, the U.S.A., and Canada. Their journey, though difficult, lauds the value of delays, imperfections, and contemplation.

McGregor and Boorman also note the value in allowing yourself to get completely lost in your thoughts and to deal with whatever pops up – relationships, fights, what you’re proud of, regrets, unresolved issues, etc. — and taking time to learn from your mistakes by (mentally) sitting and working through uncomfortable thoughts.

For me, this sort of reflection happens best when I’m otherwise occupied. This is why true disconnect usually happens during physical activity of some sort – biking, running, hiking, kayaking – though the oddly-exhausting nature of road trips often does it for me too. With all but road trips, I am not on my phone or computer at all, a necessity for true disconnect.

Deliberately Disconnect

Deliberately disconnecting allows for randomness, reflection, and retreat that encourages your mind to relax, reflect, and be restored. I’m not talking about brief moments of disconnection either; I’m encouraging long periods of it to allow your mind to reset, sort of like turning your phone off and back on when it’s not working quite right.

Tips that help you to fully disconnect include:

  • Concentrating on the beauty around you
  • Admitting you need time to reflect
  • Reminding yourself what quiet, calm, and peace feel like
  • Finding the middle of nowhere
  • Leaving your phone behind or putting it on “do not disturb”
  • Going somewhere there isn’t a cell signal
  • Getting completely lost in your thoughts
  • Discarding the things that have been bothering you for far too long
  • Teaching yourself how to let go – making it a goal
  • Letting your wandering be unplanned

Sometimes, as McGregor notes, being obsessed with schedules and goals often constrains us so much that we forget what freedom feels like.

“We’d come to realize that keeping to planned mileage was pointless if we didn’t experience anything along the way. We were three and a half days behind schedule, but it didn’t matter anymore. The days were merging into one another. The experiences felt deeper and just as intense, but less pointed. I was taking fewer photographs and talking less about what we had seen and done each day because I no longer felt like a tourist or a traveler. The journey had become my life.”

Deliberately disconnecting to connect allows us to relish our experiences, to really live in them instead of rushing past them. It allows for the journey to become your life. Won’t you join me in being where you are by learning to let go and disconnecting from being what you think you should be or do or what you think others think you should be or do?