February 22, 2023

The Value of Disconnecting

This past week we were fortunate enough to spend some time in the beautiful country of Belize. As my father and stepmother have gotten older and slowed down to a certain extent, they have spent a fair amount of time traveling and volunteering. They have dreamt about building a home in a developing country that could benefit from their service work, and as of last year that dream came to fruition. After visiting many countries and regions, they settled on Placencia, Belize, a small area of the country where they can engage and become a part of the community.

If you are unfamiliar with Belize, it is a small sparsely populated country in Central America. It borders Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. There are mountains, beaches, jungles, small towns, and cities. The most interesting part about Belize is the dynamic and diverse culture and heritage. Although English is the official speaking language of the country due to its British ties, there are many different cultures and languages within the country. 

Belize is home to wide range of people including Mayans (Yucatec, Mopan, and Q’Echi’) , Belizean Creoles (descendants of West and Central Africans), Menonites (Russian, German, American, and Mexican), Garifuna (mixture of African and Island Caribbean), Mestizos (mixture of Spanish and Mayan descent), Indian, Asian, North Americans, and British. Many of these cultures are independent of each other and can be found living in different parts of the country and different neighborhoods, but there is certainly a prominent emulsification of cultures. This richness and partial overlap can be reflected in their language, cuisine, and music. 

Rather than bore you with all the details of the trip, I want to elaborate on my biggest takeaway from the time spent in this country. As you probably know, I was extremely apprehensive of signing off for eight days. I was overwhelmed and projecting what the trip would entail, and obsessively dwelling on what I would not be getting done at home. When we finally arrived in Belize most of that went out of the window. With a lack of cell service and internet for ninety percent of the trip, I had no choice but to detach and remain present. We swam, lounged, ate, took a few short boat trips, and truly enjoyed each other’s presence.

Every vacation that we have taken since my children have been born has been domestic. We have not completely unplugged. I had not realized how tied into the world you remain when traveling domestically. On recent trips I could refrain from working, but then find myself scrolling instagram or being sidetracked with other social nonsense. This trip was an amazing opportunity to leave my phone at home and give it all up. Not only did I enjoy myself more than I have in a long time, but my wife and kids did as well. There were no distractions. The kids were no longer a “nuisance” preventing me from doing what I was trying to do, but rather an opportunity to be an ever-present father. They received all of the attention and love that they longed for, and they were respectful, well-behaved, and gracious. 

I have not always had the strongest relationship with my father, but the past few years we have been piecing things together and forming a wonderful bond. My dad and my stepmom are amazing grandparents and this trip re-affirmed those sentiments. They afforded my family an opportunity to completely detach from life as we know it and spend a week together, uninterrupted. I had no idea how badly I needed that, and how special it would be for me. I am not a huge beach-goer and truth be told, I was not looking forward to a tropical vacation, but boy was I wrong. This past week was revitalizing, reassuring, rewarding, relaxing, and just what we all needed. I am so grateful for the opportunity they bestowed upon us.

If I can lend a suggestion to anyone who feels overwhelmed, under the weather, or uneasy. Spend some quality uninterrupted time with the ones you love. Immerse yourself in them and experience what it means to be a father, husband, brother, son, or friend. Prioritize those closest to you and completely detach. Give them the “you” that your customers experience. Devote all of your time to their needs and their wants. Swim, laugh, sing, sleep in, put your phone down, and tell work to fuck off. Find a place that you can fully unplug and remove any/all distractions from your life. You will find a peace and joy that cannot be recreated with exercise, drugs, food, work, or material matters. You all deserve it!

- Tyler Grace