Last Saturday, I went swimming with my kids. We walked to the pool and they were excited to get in, so in my haste to get them in the water, I managed to take my phone swimming too. I realized about 5 minutes after getting in the water that there was something heavy in my left pocket. “Shit.” I said in my head. I calmly got out of the pool, set the phone in our stuff and tried to not let my frustration with myself show.
Luckily, I am able to send my phone to Apple for repair or swap out at a cost that is significatnly less than a new phone, but that is not really the important thing. In the 5 days with out my phone, I have learned two things.
We, more specifically I, have an unhealthy relationship with my phone.
It is amazing how much more connected and disconnected I have felt simultaneously without having a cellphone.
On the first item learned, it is amazing the sense of loss I felt after swimming with my phone. Instinctively, I would reach for my pocket. I still am, even after five days, but not as much. It was like losing a limb. It is sickening to feel that way about an electronic device. Until a few years ago, I never needed access to all information instantly. I never needed to check in with people who I will most likely only know online. I never needed to have a camera/ipod/web browser/rss reader with me. I did just fine. Now it is a total addiction.
The second thing learned is actually the more important lesson. The other night, I caught fireflies with my kids. It was amazing. We sat on the back porch, watched the fireflies come out and then decided to catch one to try and keep as a night light. Last night, a colleague of my wife came over for dinner bringing her family along and I had a great time, all without a screen. No disctractions, no interruptions. It was great.
Sure, there are some conveniences that I am missing, like calendar alerts telling me to get going to a meeting, having to plan relentlessly to make sure I meet up with my wife and capturing the color and formula of the paints in our new house, but for the most part, this has been a humbling and liberating experience.
Digital Sabbaths have always been something I have wanted to embrace and this forced one has helped me to understand my addiction. Maybe I should go swimming more often, without my phone in my pocket.