A technology-free room of one's own

I was amused to read in the newspaper that rooms designed to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life - called "decompression rooms" - are the latest rage.

"We're ahead of the curve again," I told my husband as we set our new easy chair by the corner window in our bedroom. Without television, telephone, or computer, our large, airy bedroom is now the perfect place to decompress.

Thoreau had Walden Pond; I have my chair, a tranquil spot in which to read, relax, and escape. I sink into the chair and quickly I'm immersed in the adventure of a good book. The sun warms my face, and when I look up I can see the trees outside my window. My husband, daughter, and I compete for this oasis of quiet.

But in this age of telecommunications, it's hard to hold on to tranquility, particularly for a family like us, living in a very wired house. We have eight networked computers, two servers, 10 phones, and eight phone numbers (fax, Internet, three business, one personal, and two mobile). Each family member has his or her own two-digit extension.

What other household requires dialing a 7 to get an outside line? And who besides my husband forwards his business phone to his mobile so they never miss a call? (He has a computer-networking business, and our house is his living laboratory - a "geek's" paradise.)

So even though my husband - a man who is rarely seen without a book in his hands - enjoys the peace of our new easy chair, he can't stop himself from saying, "Now that we've got this chair and a table in our bedroom, let's put in a phone."

We used to have all the modern conveniences in our bedroom: a phone, a TV, and a computer. But when the bedroom television broke, we wisely decided not to replace it. And the computer and the phone were part of a bedroom office, which we've since relocated, our first step toward our needed decompression room.

Redecorating is tempting my husband to reconsider.

"No phone," I persist. "We need a place without technology."

"Shall we read by candlelight?" he teases.

"No, I like electricity," I tell him. "It's the intrusive technologies - phone, computer and TV - that drive me crazy."

"We can always disconnect it," he urges.

"Who needs it at all?" I ask.

"I don't want a phone, either," my daughter chimes in.

A child of the '70s, I just want to "be here now," and my 10-year-old daughter also wants to seize the moment.

The telephone and computer, in all their urgent permutations - call waiting, instant messaging, cellphones - steal time before it can be seized.

"OK," my husband concedes, but then I hear "Auld Lang Syne" issuing from the mobile he is carrying in his pocket. It doesn't matter that we are having our discussion in my sacred decompression room, my husband can't resist.

SO WHAT is this urgent call? Turns out it's a call for Mr. Ed, some man who used to have one of our numbers and is still on one of those lists that every telemarketer seems to use. As if our own phone calls weren't enough, Ed gets almost as many calls at our home as we do. And each of our numbers has its own Mr. Ed.

Technology - you can't live with it, but you can't live without it. Well, at least in our bedroom/reading room, though the way is uphill, I'm going to try.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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