“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
At first glance I am always inspired by this quote, and it helps me work harder to accomplish goals I have made in my life. You know…give 100% to my job, my writing, my relationships, and god help me, my career aspirations. It makes me remember my childhood dreams and my commitments I have or should have made. It makes me think of Religious pilgrimages and books like the Odyssey. I daydream of Homer writing about Ulysses and his epic journey home to his wife, and the perils and distractions along the way. But, as I think harder on the subject, I do not think Robert Frost would understand the “dark and deep woods” we live in today. Complacency is defined as a “feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.” How often in our lives do we all find our own quiet woods to disappear in? It begins as a distraction, a vice, a necessity, and maybe the hiding place in our mind to keep insanity at bay. Society has a collaborative head buried in the metaphorical sands of email, Facebook, Google, and Youtube. I find myself unable to take a trip, a hike, or even leave the house for an hour without my smart phone and the ability to keep connected. How will I know if something happens? What if a celebrity dies and I am not the first to know? I am unable to define the true aspect of my goals, or my promises to myself. My daily life and tools to make it easier have become the complete distraction. I crave the updates, the information, the up to the minute inaccurate news posted on social media and twenty four hour news programs. Mass media has become our dark wood and it is a complacent hole for the disenchanted. A couple years back I took a two week road trip vacation and drove from the mountains of Western North Carolina down to the Florida panhandle and then down the Gulf coast. I had the chance to visit old friends and get lost from my life for seventeen straight days. I did visit friends and I was truly free as a bird. Well free as a twitter bird I guess. I found myself on social media checking the updates on my hometown crowd and posting pictures and an updated agenda from my trip constantly. I had gotten so involved in the complacency of the social network and comfort in connection to so many people and places, I was unable to disconnect and enjoy some complete solitude. I read Walden Pond when I returned and that is when it hit me. That somehow you need to isolate yourself from the constant stream of technology and updates of our “dark woods” to find your own lost promises and the miles you must travel to get there. This Robert Frost quote can and does translate very well across time. Ultimately I think we must be able to find a way to unplug long enough to escape from the drug that is mass media today. I came home from that trip and stopped posting updates on my daily shits and giggles. I started quoting on social media that day relevant ideas and promises I wanted to keep in the next hour, day, or lifetime. I started making quotation promises that were humorous, serious, somber, morose, or aspirational. I would not say I purposely did it, but a financial glitch from that two week trip landed my cell phone on a one month billing hold with my company. I could not receive calls, check my email, texts. After about a week I did not miss the constant headache of it all. I no longer had to turn around after I mile down the road on my way to work when I left my cell phone on the kitchen counter. I felt lighter as a person for a month. That whole Fight Club line about after a month not missing television applies to cell phones and internet too. But, that is another quotation on a different day. Ultimately I did make some true promises during my month long blackout and had some strong realizations about mass media control over my promises to keep and miles still left to travel before I sleep. Much like the Odyssey, I have a long road home ahead of me and have daily distractions to keep me from making it home. Complacency as a “dark wood” truly exists in the world today, and it is called a blackberry with unlimited texts and easy access Wi-Fi hotspots.