Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Noise

On my recent trip across the pond, my travel companion, Scottish Historical author extraordinaire Veronica Wolff, told me this phrase one night over a discussion (and a whisky or two) about how relaxing it was in Scotland away from all the "white noise" of normal life.

It really resonated with me. She was referring (or at least I took it to mean) all the "stuff" we have going on in our life, all the things we surround ourselves with, all those extra things that drown out what's important and add to the stress. For me it's the driving the kids around to endless activities, signing up for this or that, over-stuffed closets of clothes and toys (i.e. the junk!), email, internet, paperwork...all those demands on our time that sometimes feel overwhelming and out of control.

My kids' weekly schedule is ridiculous: dance once--sometimes twice--a week, two soccer practices, two soccer games, tutoring, tae kwon do for both kids twice a week, boy scouts once a week, and cross country twice a week. All this for only TWO children. Most of these also require some amount of parent support. These are the "normal" activities, factor in doctors appointments, ortho appointments, conferences...

You get the point. And I haven't even mentioned work-related stuff (websites, promotion, blogging :)).

I know I'm not alone in wondering how I do this to myself.

When I was in Scotland I vowed to simplify when I got home. It hasn't happened. It's hard to know where to cut, where to simplify.

I think living in America, where we have so much available to us, it's hard not to take advantage of it and get caught up in the rat race. If your seven year old shows promise as a baseball, soccer, tennis, (fill in the sport), there's the temptation to "give them the opportunity" and hire a personal coach. Really? A personal coach for a seven year old? Talk about upping the ante.

When I travel, I make it a point to cut myself off from the internet and email. It's amazing how freeing it is. Usually I don't even bother to connect, although this trip we had free wi-fi at a number of hotels and I popped on a couple of times (mostly to email photos to the family).

Both Veronica and I were talking about how amazing it would be to rent a cottage on some Hebridean island for a few months (or a year). Part of the appeal for me, I think, is to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of modern american life. I'm sure I'd miss the fabulous restaurants, the cinema multiplexes, the Starbucks :), Target, the knowledge that if I want something its probably only a few miles away, but I can definitely see the appeal on getting away from it all for a while and reconnecting with what's really important.

What about you have too much "white noise" in your life? Have you ever considered chucking it all for a while and moving somewhere remote?