A Deliberate Life: Freeing Ourselves From Our Phones
A few months ago, I unexpectedly had to swap my iPhone for a less intelligent mobile phone. As it turned out, however, this “stupid” phone had some valuable lessons to teach me.
I am a creature of habit and do not take change well. I had finally mastered my old phone (no easy feat for me) and was happy with it, at last. Initially, I hadn’t wanted it when my daughter generously pressed it into my hand, encouraging me to lose my flip phone and step out of the “Dark Ages." Over time, I learned the ins and outs and became quite attached to it—like everyone else.
We live in a society where everyone, from the kid next door to the executive in the White House, feels that they have to be continuously linked to social media sites—that is, when they aren’t talking or texting. People jabber away as they check out their groceries, rudely ignoring the cashier. Couples sit in darkened restaurants clutching their cell phones rather than the hand of their partner. Some spend their entire day with a Bluetooth clamped to their ear. I had become one of them.
So it was with trepidation that I stood before the overwhelming array of phones, torn between scanning the packages and watching the seconds tick away on the wall clock, counting down the minutes until closing time. My eyes finally rested on one. The description posted on the wall above it sounded promising, and it was reasonably priced (I am no spendthrift). I lifted it from its peg and turned to my fiance. He grinned and gave me a supportive nod as I quickly thrust it into his waiting hands, muttering, “Okay, whatever.” I knew that he would not let me out of this store without selecting one.
It did not take long for me to discover that despite the claim of this being a smartphone, it was far inferior when compared to its predecessor. In the coming months, however, I would learn the benefits of that.
After struggling to download my favorite apps, I gave up on most and said goodbye to my t.a.r.d.i.s. ringtone. When the New Year changed the “updated” facebook app proved to be a bust. I was left with email, text and standard calls. My phone suddenly became just a phone!
Yes, I can go online with it, when needed, but I soon discovered that it really wasn’t necessary. Once I realized and adjusted to my new limitations, I started paying attention to other things…and people. When you are longer distracted by a little screen—a little picture—you begin to see the big picture.
I am free now to fully appreciate the world around me – and actively participate in it - savoring all of the small pleasures – the warmth of the sun, the sound of wind through the trees, singing along with the radio, every bite of a tasty meal, the cleansing effect of tears and the redemptive power of laughter, and all of the people (and dogs) who cross my path. I smile and chat with them and regularly take inventory of myself, my priorities and my life.
I now live a deliberate life. I am living mindfully. I treasure my family and friends, and when they are near I want to give them my full attention and respect—to fully engage with them and relish the relationship I have with them.
It is so very easy to be swept along in this life. We let life happen to us and around us instead of living it, getting so caught up in a virtual life that we forget to take part in our real one. Unfortunately, we often lose track of how precious those fleeting moments are until it’s too late. We take life, and people, for granted. We fail to cherish each and every moment. Do yourself a favor and put away the phone. Be present in your own life. You won’t regret it.