Our Terrifying VacationSubmitted by Moneywatch Advisors on August 4th, 2020
Our family started vacationing on Squam Lake in New Hampshire periodically when I was in middle school and my wife, kids and I have maintained the habit. In fact, we just returned from a week at our collective happy place where, this year, we had to dig deep to cope with a challenge unfamiliar to civilized society. Here is our terrifying story.
First, while our idea of roughing it is when the Holiday Inn Express breakfast buffet runs out of oatmeal, the house on the lake is fairly remote. In fact, Amazon expedited deliveries take two weeks. But, although cell service is only a rumor there, the house we rent does have Wi-Fi internet service….until this year.
Arriving after a 16-hour drive where my specially-curated road trip Spotify playlist was roundly ridiculed by the Neanderthals riding with me, our primary focus was, naturally, on unloading and heading for that first swim. So, it wasn’t until that evening when we noticed something amiss. No Wi-Fi. Okay, no problem, time for expert trouble shooting like turning the router off, then back on. Nothing – just the spinning dial of death. Then, panic set it in as we realized we were completely shut off from the outside world. The horror! The horror! (First uttered in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” but more applicable here)
The first full day we racked our brains for work-arounds like connecting the ethernet cable directly to my laptop. No go as my Mac Book only takes FireWire, whatever the heck that is. The list of what we’d be missing - email, texts, news sites, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – was daunting.
But as we started to settle into lake life and became more focused on catching a ball thrown from a lacrosse stick while keeping our balance on a Stand-Up paddleboard, viewing the video of the squirrel water skiing on Instagram became less and less important. Moreover, making the absolute perfect tomato sandwich for lunch (the secret is yellow mustard) was much more satiating then “just a quick glance at email” that turns into 90 minutes.
By Tuesday we were all firmly in the camp of “I feel so free!” Not starting our morning with the latest election news or the dysfunction of Congress or the latest depressing Covid infection numbers was a boost to our mental health. And who knew it is possible to read more than 280 characters at a time? Swinging in a hammock while captivated by a murder mystery or love story was like getting a shot of Vitamin B-12 to our brains.
Most of all, we focused on each other and laughed as we hadn’t laughed in who knows how long. Despite my family’s inability to appreciate my brilliant musical tastes, they are smart, funny, caring people with valuable insights on our world. Who knew?
This has been a stressful year for all of us. Take my non-financial advice and create some time for yourself to be grateful - by disconnecting. The squirrel will be there when you plug back in.
Steve Byars, CFP®