Sunset Slows Me Down

Sunset of a New Jersey vineyard

Sunset of a New Jersey vineyard

I just sat on my front porch and watched the sun set. I’ll be honest. I never really understood the joy of watching the sun actually set. You can’t look directly at it because it is a bit blinding (bad for the eyes I would think) and it goes so slowly (when compared to, say, a high-speed internet connection).

Even a few weeks ago after a wonderful day in Tivoli, Italy, a fellow traveler exclaimed, “look at that sunset! Come quick! There are probably only two minutes left.” I was in awe that he actually had a time of expiration ready to inspire a sense of urgency.

As is my usual response, I said, “wow, beautiful.” I mean, isn’t that what you do? Look at the sunset casting a canvas of color across the sky, say wow, then move on?

As my husband and I snapped a few photographs, our fellow traveler said he was going to wait there long enough to watch it set. So we did, too. From a small city on a hilltop, we watched the sun sink lower and lower behind another hilltop a valley away, until only a glow proved that it had been there in the first place.

A little over a week later, I stood with my husband at a vineyard in New Jersey, celebrating our wedding with a small group of family and friends. While speaking to some of our guests, I was struck by how beautiful the sky looked as the sun prepared to set over the vineyard. I asked our photographer (and friend of ours) if she would mind taking a picture. The result is shown alongside this post.

This evening while reading on my front porch (an activity I haven’t done enough this summer), I once again became distracted by the sunset. In those last few moments of light, I became acutely aware of my surroundings. My neighborhood exuded peacefulness, with everyone having already returned indoors to prepare for the week ahead. The clear sky turned salmon. The grass looked particularly green. A gentle hum from insects and the melodic notes of a lone bird provided the soundtrack while the sun dipped slowly behind the trees.

As another day draws to a close, I am calm and ready to see what tomorrow holds.

Disconnecting Changed The Way I Reconnect (For Now)

I recently returned from a two week vacation in Italy during which (most importantly) I got married and (relevant to this article) I spent about 20 minutes on the Internet. That’s right- two glorious weeks away from electronic information overload. No email, no surfing the Internet, no updating Twitter, Facebook, or this blog.

During those two weeks, I explored amazing cities in Italy, tried new food, made new friends, and spent much needed quality time with my fiancée-turned-husband. Another couple we met on the trip talked about finding an Internet café upon arrival in each new city. My husband and I wished them luck and went our own way. There just wasn’t anything I needed to check on or anyone I wanted to talk to rather than spend time with my husband and see everything I could in the one country I’ve wanted to visit since I was little.

On our second to last night, my husband purchased Internet access for 24-hours on his laptop. He spent about a half hour responding to a few business emails. I scanned my inbox and selected only two emails to read: one from my dad and one from my friend who was coordinating with vendors for my and hubby’s post-trip wedding celebration. I changed my Facebook status to say “Sherri was married in Rome, is sunning in Venice, and will be home soon.” Then I logged out of everything and went to dinner. That’s it.

What did I miss? Not a whole lot. Sure there were a couple hundred emails waiting between my personal and work email accounts. My RSS reader had collected a slew of articles and blog posts attempting to mock me in harsh black “unread” fonts. And when I finally ventured back online, they were all still there, waiting for whenever I was ready to get back to them. I leisurely worked through my personal emails at the pace of about a dozen a day, deleting liberally. I didn’t even begin reading the work emails until I returned to the office four days after my return.

Since coming home, I have radically reduced the amount of time I spend on my computer, opting instead to spend time cuddling with my husband and stepson on the couch, cooking new meals, and playing with the dog (who was probably the most excited to have me back home). After all, I work on Web sites all day. The last thing I really need to do at home is spend more time on the Internet.

There is a big world beyond my computer screen. Sometimes the Internet helps me connect to it. The key word is “sometimes.”