On my way home from work yesterday, I walked through NYC’s Bryant Park.
I love Bryant Park. It’s green, it’s calming, there’s a charming carousel and a babbling fountain – you know, things that are supposed to relax us. But yesterday, a majority of the people were anything but relaxed. Many were tapping away on their phones or otherwise engaged with a digital device. They were not only seemingly oblivious to the charms of the park, but in most cases to the people with whom they sat.
My jaunt through the park was brief, but I continued to think about the implications of being plugged in for the majority of one’s waking hours. I started to assess my own habits, and anyone who knows me will confirm that if I’m awake, I’m not too far from my computer.
The exception to this is when I’m in Paris. When I’m abroad, I maintain a US work schedule. I work from about 4pm – midnight Paris time, which is 10am-6pm NYC time. I spend all day (while the US is sleeping) away from my computer, taking photos, lounging (for real!) and generally enjoying the slower pace. My clients in the US are sleeping, my friends are sleeping, my family is sleeping, and I have absolutely no reason to be near my computer. At 4pm (10am ET), I head back to our apartment and start working. By that time in Paris, I am fairly tired, have had a full day, and am happy to sit down and do some work.
In many cases it’s an ideal schedule. No pressure lounging all day, engaged with work and friends all night.
What I can’t figure out is why here in the US, I don’t seem to have any time to lounge. It’s part self-imposed, part unwillingness to disconnect, and part blurry borders between work and life.
It’s crazy to me that I have to skip time zones to unwind.