The leisure/disconnection/creation circuit

Two prolific, internet-known travelers:

  • Craig Mod: writer, walker, photographer, software-adjacent
  • Brock Keen: photographer, car camper, road-tripper, Porsche-enthusiast

These gentlemen are particularly good at two things that I am not: getting outside and unplugged, and photography. (Also: walking and camping.) From the outside, their projected life/identity seems like a vacation1. In particular, they take quite different sort of vacations than I do: not Disneyland nor dog agility-adjacent.

They go out into the world, force a little disconnection. Setting aside this is part of their thing, they are separate from whatever knowledge work they might do.

I often want to better disconnect from my knowledge work, even for a couple of hours each night. And, it occurs to me that I can achieve that on any particular kind of vacation. A trip to a Disney resort is a fine opportunity to shift my mind to the present and to my intellectual/reading/writing interests2.

Disengagement en route to thinking

Mod and Keen generate a desire to think by converting walking/driving mileage into boredom and then, alchemy!, better thoughts.

Maybe our generally less-stimulated existences, before pervasive computing and social media, correlate with thinking better thoughts. i.e., does it require some kind of disengagement to be a Great Thinker in the age of pervasive networking and computing?

Keen is not specifically about thinking, whereas Mod is thinking adjacent. Possibly, more about disengagement. Yet, something about it makes me think I could do better thoughts in something like that existence.

Disengagement as precondition to creativity

What if some degree of disengagement is already table stakes? Not disengagement like Waldenponding. More like returning to a clear mind and thinking one’s own thoughts. Like, you have to say no to all the distractions that you said yes to in the first place (whether accidentally over optimistically) to do a great thing/thought. Jenny O’Dell has written the book on this, recommended.

Vacation is a tool for disconnection and disengagement adjacency

I wrote A Vacation is a Tool For Disconnecting amidst a few weeks wherein we vacationed in Disneyland and stayed in a friend’s RV at a public park while Courtney did dog agility. Despite this not being the most disconnected (I was, in fact, very connected) or disengaged (Disneyland is quite stimulating), my mind reached a good place.

I wasn’t dwelling on things. I could stop thinking about work once as soon as it snuck into my thoughts. I enjoyed quiet moments and didn’t rush to fill them with distractions. I photographed and journaled and jotted down ideas on the spot and posted photos to blogs. It was pretty dang good.

But I still found myself sitting there, half-writing and half-journaling, sort of feeling like I’m not prolific enough, even on vacation/disconnection. So maybe disconnection/disengagement isn’t the central thing. Or, ambition and aspiration are orthogonal to personal/work life splits and balances and how they manifest as some degree of “going offline”.

Possibly, if I were on a road trip or walking or in nature or disengaged or whatever, I would find this feeling/vibe anyway. Is that the disengagement or disconnection talking?

  1. Of course, it is not. It’s a lot of work to put that many photos and words on the internet. ↩︎

  2. Assuming Disney parks don’t become my work. 🤞🏻 ↩︎

Adam Keys @therealadam