I talked to my dad on Monday, Christmas Eve. He mentioned something that made me sit up straight and take notice. He said, “Looking at your phone affects your connectivity.” Think about it.
No, seriously. Think about it.
We are in a day and age when NOT looking at your phone is a skill. And a problem. I lost my cell last Wednesday. For 5 days, I didn’t have one.
And honestly? It felt pretty good.
Don’t get me wrong. In the beginning, I freaked out! Retraced my steps countless times. Called my husband, asking if he found it at home. For a couple days, we frantically searched the car, the parking lot, the 2-minute path from where my vanpool drops me off and up the elevator and to my cubicle, the house, our driveway — everywhere!
So for 120 hours, what did I do?
Told people to use Facebook, my work line, or email to reach me until I received a replacement. Kept my cell service on, so I could check voicemail messages (just in case).
Put all my energy into our first annual ugly sweater contest at the office. (A smashing success!)
Only surfed the Net at work or at home. NOT while in transit or during face-to-face conversations.
Enjoyed the longest conversations with my vanpool buddies. (During the 2.5-to-3-hour-long roundtrip commute, I usually scanned the top news stories of the day online. Or napped.)
Used an eraser board for my to-do list.
Wrote more in an old-half-filled-almost-forgotten-handmade journal a friend gave me several Christmases a go.
Posted on Facebook and talked with family and friends to research opinions on what new phone to buy.
Used my old point-and-shoot camera to capture holiday photos. Didn’t post them on FB.
Instead of texting confabs with friends who lived nearby, we met up.
Listen to favorite CDs while wrapping gifts and writing cards with zeal.
Mindfully pushed “Play” button daily so my toy musical snowmen sang their silly tune. (I squealed with laughter each time.)
Baked cornbread. Twice.
Caught up on “Color Splash”, “Person of Interest” and “The Voice” episodes.
Perused a few magazines I had stacked high.
Snuggled more with my husband on the couch.
Looked at people more in the eye.
Somehow this “OMG-am-horribly-lost-don’t-know-what-I’d-do-because-I’d-die-if-I-lost-my-cell-phone!” mindset snuck up on me. For many months, I felt off. Perhaps I was affected by a number of things — work stress, long commute, financial/health concerns, etc. But I sensed an ever-present tension that I just couldn’t put a finger on, yet felt in my gut. It haunted me.
But this experience helped.
Being disconnected reconnected me. I became more present during conversations, my writing more genuine, my actions more sincere. It felt familiar: This is how I used to connect to others; and this is how I used to write as a teenager when it was just me, lined notebook paper, and a pen. I’m harkening back to the ’80s — a simpler time with far less distractions.
Am on the grid again with a new smartphone (the same old model, btw). Am surfing and texting again — but less often. (Remember: That takes skill.) I can go back to my jump-at-every-alert-pre-cell-loss ways.
My brief interlude of no-cell-codependency shifted my focus from an expensive, handheld device tethered to my hip back to the way I used to do things. Nothing compares to scribbling in a journal, crossing out items on the eraser board, and taking my time to read a paper magazine in between my hands. I missed the tactile and visual sensations of doing different things with different tools. Until now.
Yes, it’s old school. But it’s me.