My Smartphone, My Self

Blog smartphone photo

Yesterday, I had driven three minutes away from my house and was running late for an appointment when that scary shower theme from Psycho started playing in my head.  I had Forgotten. My. Smartphone.

On a road with no easy exit, it would have taken me 20 minutes out of my way to turn back to get it.  Worse, I was not quite sure how to get to my destination, and I normally would have used my phone’s GPS app to find my way.  So the dilemma was, do I forge on and possibly make it on time, or go back for my phone and most certainly be late?

I soldiered on, the memory of my phone sitting on the kitchen counter taunting me.  What if there was an emergency and no one could reach me?  What if I wanted to capture a moment and tweet about it or post it on Instagram?  What if I needed to look something up on Google?  How would I survive the day without my Blackberry?*

But amazingly, without my smartphone appendage, a funny thing happened:

  • I made it to my destination without relying on GPS.
  • I performed with a dance troupe at a festival.
  • I chatted in person with the family and friends who were with me, rather than by text with those who are far away.
  • I shopped for flowers.
  • I planted herbs.
  • I sat out in the sunshine and enjoyed the view.
  • I read a chapter of my book.
  • I wrote out a list of things I needed to do in the coming week.
  • I planned out the design of my invitations for an upcoming birthday party.
  • I cooked supper.
  • I purged my closet of old clothes that no longer fit me.

Turned out, I was so involved in being present and enjoying the day that I actually forgot to retrieve my phone even when I got home.  By the time I remembered it, 9 hours had passed and I realized I hadn’t missed a thing, but I had been filled with so much. I couldn’t believe how much I had accomplished, freed from the distraction of checking for messages and the constant updates on Facebook.

All this, because I forgot my phone.

The day had felt good and purposeful.  Fulfilling.  Satisfying.

And this is what I learned:

1.  Just as turning the TV off can give you back hours in a day to accomplish things, so can setting boundaries around how much and how often you’ll check your phone.  Every moment of the day does not need to be spent with the head down staring at a screen, but should be enjoyed with the head up being present in the world.

2.  Relying on my smartphone has made me lazy about simple things like remembering driving directions or how to spell certain words.  I’d been to my destination before and knew the address, so the GPS lady was not really necessary.  And I used to be a champion speller in elementary school; surely I haven’t forgotten it all already?!

3.  The world will not stop revolving just because someone can’t text you, or because you weren’t able to post that photo of your lunch on Instagram.  We survived before smartphones and, yes, we can survive a few hours detached from them throughout the day.

Yesterday was such a lovely day that, who knows, I may “accidentally” forget my phone at home tomorrow, too.

* (OK.  Stop laughing.  I happen to like my Blackberry.  Yes, I’m retro.)

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