How Losing My Tracker Got Me Back on Track
The Nature of Tracking
Last Sunday while driving to the trailhead I happened to flip to a radio program about technology and privacy. It’s no secret that our online behavior is tracked. Still, I hadn’t realized the extent to which some companies collect and sell personal information to the highest bidder, and how it’s used after that. It was time for me to get back on track.
The tracker had always made me uneasy, but I’d bought it three years ago when all other options to lose twenty stubborn pounds had failed. It was hardly an existential crisis but spring and several out-of-province riding events were on the horizon, and I couldn’t fit into my riding gear. Desperate, I bought a device that would track my steps and record my heartrate. All I had to do was enter my food intake, target weight and dates, and monitor my progress. It worked and I’ve worn it ever since.
Privacy concerns are one thing, and they’re significant. The sense of relief, even freedom, I felt when I removed the tracker surprised me. Then the irony of the situation hit me like the blast of arctic air that greets me when I open the door these days.
I’ve enjoyed contemplative walks in nature most days for the past six months. I amble through different communities of forests, rocks, and slumbering marshes, slumbering under their soft white duvets. It’s thrilling to hear birdsong, especially in winter when it’s rare. I see animal tracks in the snow but rarely sight the four-legged who’s left them, yet I wonder if their eyes are on me. Hearing a stream as it tumbles over the rocks, even under the ice, invigorates and broadcasts joy. Different parts of the streams sing different songs, changing daily. I’m walking through something that’s living, always evolving, and living in community. Nature, my nature, calls me to slow down, listen, and sense the world that surrounds me. It’s showing me how to understand myself and others better.
So how is it, I rely on a piece of external technology to tell me how many steps I’ve walked? Or how many calories I’ve burned, and what my deficit is for the day? And at what expense? It’s ludicrous.
Technology has evolved to help us. But it intervenes in such a way that we begin to rely on it and forget that there’s a wider, more than just human world. I’m not against technology. We have to balance how we can feed and nourish our sensing bodies while interacting with digital displays.
Back on Track
Our bodies need holistic nourishment from the best ingredients available if we are to be of highest service. When tracking preoccupies our time, it diverts our energy. It can blind us to the needs of other beings—human and others.
Instead, I’d like to be more awake to the world around me and open to ways I can be more compassionate. How can I be more aware of the needs of others? They may not have money to buy groceries let alone record their healthy choices. How can I be more aware of how my decisions affect others?
Losing my tracker has gotten me back on track. Now it’s up to me to listen, see, and feel. Not for the buzz telling me I’ve reached my goal for the day, but for how I’m touching and being touched in the space around me.