Love Life Live Lent Friday of Week Three: do something different

Tomorrow’s action is to do something different by trying to have a screen-free day – which is why I’m writing this now!

Tomorrow is my day off, as it happens. I’m not morally obliged to answer emails, and it should be possible for me genuinely to have a screen-free day – any other day of the week and I’d really really struggle. But from the tweets that have been coming in today in anticipation of this particular challenge, for many people the idea of having a screen free day is something they long to do, but genuinely can’t. If you’re working and your work demands that you spend most of your day looking at a screen, and if most of your human contact comes via electronic means, then this challenge may feel like adding insult to injury.  You’d love to spend a day without being a slave to your laptop or tablet. But you can’t.

But remember, the actual heading for the LLLL action is, ‘Do something different’.  The challenge to do without the computer is an example of what this might mean – and for those of us who don’t absolutely have to engage via technology, but are just a little bit addicted to it, it’s a challenge that is well worth trying, and might well be a hugely life-giving thing to do.

But for those who really are chained to their computer all day, the challenge to do something different remains. What that looks like in real life is worth spending some time thinking about.  Fundamentally, the challenge is to dare to break the habits and patterns that we’ve got stuck in, and that have ended up controlling our lives.  The challenge is to confront those habits and patterns and to ask ourselves whether we have become a slave to them, and if we have, to work out ways of regaining some freedom.

So if you’re stuck with the screen during office hours, what about when you take a break?  Do you have the option to leave your desk and go outside at lunchtime? To go for a walk or take a different route to and from work so you see different people and landscapes?  Eat something different, or wear something colourful that you wouldn’t normally wear, try out a different perfume, or do something different with your hair – anything to stimulate your senses and keep you alive to the world beyond the screen.  So many of us get stuck staring ahead of us at a glowing rectangle, all day, every day, but we are people with bodies, with a sense of taste and touch and smell as well as the sight or hearing we use to engage with people via technological means.  This challenge, to do something different, could be a way of noticing all over again who you are and what matters to you.

And if slavery to the screen isn’t your particular form of slavery, this challenge is still a chance to work out what is.  What habits and ways of being are keeping you captive? And if you forgo them for a day, what new joys and discoveries will rise up to fill the gap?

So many of us get stuck in routines and don’t dare to think about what could be different.  Yes, it’s a risk. If we’ve always done something one way, what happens when we don’t?  Yet it’s essential to being a living being that we change and grow and respond to our environment, learning new things about ourselves and about the world around us all the time. Accept the challenge to do something different and this could just be the first day of the rest of your life.

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