Nine Days Waking

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to find perspective? It’s an article of faith that perspective is valuable. We treasure those transformative moments in life when we suddenly see everything in a new light–and we’ll go to enormous lengths to manufacture those moments when we need them. Exotic retreats. Guru seminars. Life-changing vacations. But sometimes going through the motions doesn’t produce the desired effect. Sometimes you heave and slog to the top of a great mountain only to find that while the view is different, the perspective hasn’t really changed. When you come back down, everything looks the same and life continues on as it was.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if perspective is getting harder to come by. I mean, you have to step outside your own reality to get it, but it’s getting harder and harder to escape your own bounds without taking a lifeline with you. You could climb Everest and still keep up on email and your Facebook network. Mobile access gives us a virtual bubble to travel in, which is great for allowing us to get away, but terrible for allowing us to really Get Away.

I’ve been struggling with this over the past few weeks as I’m dealing with a lot of business decisions and transformations. I’ve really needed time to think and process and see things from a different vantage point. I thought a 12-day vacation with my family would be a perfect opportunity to escape, but as I’m sure every one of you knows, it isn’t that easy. In fact it can be downright comical. It’s like going through the stages of grief, you know: anger, denial, bargaining and acceptance.

In my case, our family vacation was an epic camping/road trip to dinosaur country with my 6-year old aspiring paleontologist. We started in Salt Lake City, and made a wide loop through Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. Lots of endless highways punctuated with towns clinging to populations less than 1000. At first, I relied on my Treo, plugging into Sprint’s network around larger towns and cities, which is actually pretty good. But the minute you start roaming, data services are dropped. So then I’d rely on phone calls, and I’d get all my data work done in a frantic hour parked behind some Super 8 motel in the middle of nowhere. When my highest priority rolling through a town was looking for "Free WiFi" on the marquis of motels, I knew I was a hopeless case. (Why haven’t the fast food chains figured this out yet? There’s a Burger King or McDonalds in every highway town. They could pull in a growing number of travelers by offering WiFi…)

It took me nine days to finally let go–aided and abetted by the remote wilderness of Southern Utah. We were in Escalante, lost in a thousand miles of desert, holed up in a tiny Oasis feeding into the Fremont River when I finally cut the cord. No email. No texting. No web. No phone calls. The first of what would become three days of silence.


It’s hard to summarize in a blog post my own experience of unfolding perspective. I began to see clearly how scattered my focus has been. I could see the reality of relationships that are shaping my life. I could see with sudden resolution how much I need to let go of my own ideas and expectations. But the most poignant perspective I gained was the simplest, and the most haunting, and the most stunning contrast to the wired world I live in every day.

I was at the top of a long hike in Zion. It was 106 degrees and I’d climbed 1500 feet up along a steep trail carved into the edge of a sandstone wall, where I found a slot canyon to escape the heat. Sitting in the center of a vast and abstract masterpiece of wind and water and stone, I could look out over a plunging cliff into a prehistoric valley showing 100s of millions of years of geologic theater. And it struck me. The value of nature. The importance of escaping the tethers of electronic life when we can. When you’re finally able to disconnect, to find perspective, you step outside the limitations of your own imagination. You see larger than your manufactured self. You grasp what your mind filters out in the efficient operation of daily life. It may be pixelated details, it may be breath-taking vistas. But the experience of catching the unexpected is an epiphany. For me, it wasn’t some new magical truth that replaced the bubble of my own imagination, it was simply the profound realization that there’s much more to discover beyond the illusions in which I wrap myself every day–that stripping down illusions is more important for me now than creating them.


I’m imagining this all sounds pretty trite, but the effect is quite tangible. I’ll be making an announcement in a few weeks about my business, which I’ve been keeping quiet for the past few months. I’ll be changing the tone of this blog to open up a little more freely to write about what I feel like writing. And I’ll be reaching out more to the people I really want to work with in discovering new ideas and opportunities. Life is too short to stay confined in a small bubble.   

2 thoughts on “Nine Days Waking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *