How I Change My Perspective: The essential need to escape the ordinary
Last week, I spent a few days escaping the ordinary. A couple of friends and I headed to northern Michigan, to the remote North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan.
It's growing increasingly difficult for me to escape like this. Life is hectic with two young kids at home (a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old). Escaping means leaving my wife to care for our kids without reprieve or support. Going makes me feel self-centered.
Work is busy, too. My calendar fills up with meetings and projects, (have a communication need? I'd love to meet with you!) and leaving for a few days means I need to fit all of those priorities somewhere else on the calendar. Going makes me feel irresponsible.
Despite this, I've learned escaping the ordinary is vital. Getting away from the routine provides some incredible benefits. Here's why I continue to leave, even though it's difficult.
Spending time in creation, with creation, deepens my appreciation for my Creator.
Every time I backpack, I recognize something new about God's creation. This past week, I spent some time with the Park Ranger learning about Piping Plovers, an endangered shorebird with protected nesting areas on the island. I'm consistently amazed by God's incredible creativity when I spend time with creation. I'm terrible at solitude, and backpacking finds a way to create a space that forces my isolation (even in the presence of friends).
Getting away from technology helps me reset priorities.
Instead of a calendar, phone, or watch telling me what to do, I rely on the sun and weather. (And, in Michigan, daytime in early July is 5:30am to 10:00pm.) It's enough to break unhealthy habits and create space to form new ones. I mentioned I'm terrible at solitude; I'm also "not great" at silence. I love backpacking because it's forced silence.
I'm more present and creative when I return.
I have a way of being present but not there—my mind is always wandering and thinking about other things. But when I return from a couple of days away, my kids anxiously await me as soon as I get home (and shower). And I'm genuinely excited to spend time with them, too! I'm more present as a dad after getting away. And I return to my desk with a full suite of fresh ideas for my work! Getting away from my desk and computer means I return with a fresh set of eyes and a bounty of new ideas to work on, ways to improve processes, or maybe just a renewed excitement about work.
On top of these reasons, getting away for a couple of days is also key to improving my mental health. Backpacking reminds me of my (tiny) place in the world—and how incredible God is in the midst of the mess.
Backpacking may not be your thing. But I think finding some way to escape the ordinary is essential for every communicator. It's so easy for us to get trapped in the urgency of our work that we lose sight of the bigger picture. A sabbath—whatever form it takes—is God's gift to us. Rest, and enjoy.