unplugged

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If you’re reading this, you’re not unplugged, at least not completely. That’s OK, because the world of social media, blogs, podcasts and the infinite sea of posts, articles or tweets is not a dreadful thing. Yet it seems many of us struggle to find the control valve to slow it down when necessary – and I am from an era where we played outside all day as a kid! As an architect, it’s difficult to avoid media, because we rely on it heavily for research, inspiration and connecting with others in our profession. Picking up a magazine can be a brief time to relax.

Last week, I traveled to Houston Texas as part of a mission’s trip. I’ll tell that story in a subsequent post, but the time away was a refreshing break when I was able to connect with people face to face in meaningful ways. I must admit, I didn’t miss scrolling through my phone even though I had it handy.

Not – one – bit.

When you spend more than 24 hours in a van EACH WAY full of teenagers and a friend who is also a leader, there’s nothing left to do but talk (and sing “oldies” songs from the 70s and 80s). Remember talking? It’s the original way to get to know someone by sharing one’s story. That seems simple right? It’s funny, I had to intentionally find ways to reconnect with my wife as we traveled in different vehicles and spent the day on different job sites.

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The digital world and in-person interactions are not mutually exclusive constructs. Tell your teenage kids that as I’m guessing they text each other when in the same room. When given no other choice but to sit with another person in a van or with a group of people around a table every evening to share, laugh and connect I was so revitalized, no…I was moved.

Why is this so hard?

I spent a week in a wrecked home of strangers who turned out being family five days later. Monday through Friday found me and my team with power tools, eating lunch sitting on a five-gallon bucket. This happened on six different sites. I had to travel 1,400 miles to eat with friends (and my son) every single day. Throughout the work day I left my phone in my tool box rather than in my pocket or on my desk. There’s lessons to share in that alone being an architect and not a contractor. Respect, respect, respect for the thoughtful, talented tradespeople out there.

The world went by for eight days and I’m sorry if I missed something important you wrote, but I’m not sorry I missed 3.5 billion tweets fly through cyber space. Did I mention that I don’t miss sleeping on a concrete floor -twice? I see my chiropractor this morning. Ouch, I’m nursing my left SI joint.

Talk to someone in person today, listen too. It might start to fix our problems.

For my friends traveling to NYC for the AIA Conference, enjoy the face to face time.

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unplugged

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