Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Broken phone

Last week my phone broke. It was kind of traumatic and kind of awesome. I happened to be in Belize (poor me) so my phone was really only with me so I could receive any information about my daughter who was not with me. Emergency only really. But on the fourth day, I dropped my phone and the screen just went black. I could hear the phone ring, hear when text came in or a reminder for an event, I just couldn't see the screen to activate anything. It was okay. I used my partner Nancy's phone when I needed to, but the broken phone really was a major challenge for me.

This past Sunday (4/22/12)in the New York Times, there was an article titled "The Flight From Conversation" by Sherry Turkle about how texting has compromised the ability of many to have conversations. Yes, we talk to each other, but are we really there? We text while we talk, always one foot out the mental door to the next thing. We are able to edit ourselves, monitor what we share, even with the people we are closest to. Some of us text all the time. I do. A few weeks ago I had a friend over who I rarely see. She was texting intermittently while we talked in depth about our love lives, children, struggles, deep things. It was just weird! Last week in Belize, I was on a tiny little 10-person plane. It was a very short flight, a very small plane, with lots of water below. The pilot was texting!

Yesterday I went to get a replacement phone. The woman at the Verizon store told me that I use very few talking minutes, but LOTS of texts. She confirmed what I already knew. I'd rather organize my thoughts and present them as I want them to be heard, rather than pick up the phone and talk. After I got my new phone, I went to work, but you can bet I checked my phone about 12 times on the way (in the car). Later in the afternoon, I had to make a difficult phone call. I would have emailed, but I didn't have the person's email. I was hoping that it would just be a voicemail, but she answered. Completely disarmed, I just said what I had to say. Much harder than texting or emailing, but cleaner too. Immediate results.

I was basically without a phone for less than a week, but I noticed such a difference. At breakfast with Lucia, I wasn't constantly checking the time on my phone to make sure we were on track to get to school on time. I just trusted that five more painstaking minutes with the slowest eater in the world would be fine. When we were stuck in traffic on the way to Lucia's soccer game, I couldn't call to tell anyone that the goalie would be late. I couldn't look on my phone to see what all this bullshit traffic was about. I just sat there talking about how the bee in the bee movie Lucia had recently seen called his butt "his heaving buttocks." I was so much more present!

This has all been said. It's the talk of the era. Google glasses are next. We'll been seeing screens as we walk down the street. Or the automatic car that drives for us so we can do texting, emailing, Photoshop, marketing analysis.....Sherry Turkle, in her New York Times Article, says, "We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely."

Ms.Turkle makes a great point. The phone and the constant connection it represents is a false connection. The real connection comes from talking to or being with another person. Or it comes from being connected to yourself by being alone with yourself and appreciating that. Not waiting for the next thing. Not being part-way in the current thing.
I love my new phone. It does amazing, cool, efficient things. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to find some phone-free spaces in my life. If I start to slip, I hope you'll remind me. Just send me a text.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A text would have been so much better!

I hate listening to voicemail. Blah blah blah blah. Just text me okay! God, that sounds so bratty. Anyway, last week I was running around all morning like a nutbag-- drop Lu at school, park, race to a meeting, race to another meeting, and TRY like hell to make the noon yoga class.

At 11:52am, I made it to the studio, scurried to grab my clothes to change. I still had to put my mat down and fill my water bottle. I checked my phone because I always do to make sure there's no message from Lucia's school (I know, neurotic) and saw there were two missed calls from a 949.286.3973. I don't know that area code at all, so I just ignored it because that's what I do. I ignore it.

I got my clothes on, my water bottle filled, my mat situated. Frani came in to the yoga room, turned on the lights and the heat and started Pranayama. At the exact moment that she told us to start inhaling, I had a thought that would plague me for the next fifteen minutes. 949.286.3973! That's my house alarm company. My alarm is going off and I'm either getting robbed or it is a false alarm and I'm going to owe ADT $150! How was I going to get out of the room to listen to my messages? Could I? Would it be awful? Would the other students just think I was doing some important owner-task that had to be done right in the middle of class? No way. I was stuck.

I was completely checked out through Pranayama. Between images of a masked villain rifling through my underwear and bras, I told myself to just breathe, let it go, and concentrate on my practice. And then, flash, an image of my beautiful newly-painted green front door smashed through with a hatchet would take me away again. Breathe, I told myself. I was still plotting how to get out of the room through Half-Moon and Awkard. I thought, maybe during party time I can make a break. But somehow, in Eagle, I must have switched over. I had let it go. When party time came, I didn't want to leave the room. I knew there was nothing I could do about my alarm or the $150 or all of my important worldly goods being gone.

And so it was. I practiced my practice. Maybe not my best ever. Definitely not my best. But I was able to let my obsessed brain release its obsession for almost 90 minutes. When I finished class, I didn't even remember to check my phone right away. It wasn't until after my shower that I remembered to listen to my voicemail. I was being offered a new credit card! All was well in the world. I'm so glad I practiced.