A couple days ago, I thought I had lost my cell phone. I was already most of the way of the hour-long commute home when I realised.
I was wearing workout clothes and well, the sadistic people that design women’s clothing seem to all think that women have no need to easily access their ID cards, subway passes or even their cell phones. When I stuck my hand in that nifty backpack front pocket, there was no iPhone there.
I debated turning around and going all the way back. I wasn’t even sure when I had it with me last. Did I leave it in lab, in the ladies room on my floor, or lose it somewhere along the way from lab to the T-stop? A kind stranger let me call Keith from their phone. We decided that I should go home and when Keith got back from work, we would drive back into Boston and search for my phone.
As soon as I got home, my first instinct was to text my lab mates and ask them if they had seen my phone…which, of course, I couldn’t do because I didn’t have my phone and didn’t have a single co-worker’s number’s committed to memory. Instead, I sent out emails and gchat messages from my prehistoric old laptop. It took a long time and I had to restart the damn thing before it would even connect to the internet. Within ten minutes my phone had been located: it was on my desk. It was moved to a safer location and that was that.
But the rest of the day I had to spend without a cell phone. I effectively had no internet either because my old laptop is too slow. It was odd at first, because often I’d reach for my phone to check something on Facebook, or even look up stuff on Wikipedia.
So I did the things I normally do: I read on my Kindle; I went to a yoga class; I stuck a loaf of bread into the oven and then sat down to drink tea by the window and daydream about a time when my PhD would be over and done with. I cooked dinner…
…Except, I didn’t keep interrupting myself to check something on my phone, or to look at updates on the news or Facebook or to see how many people had “liked” the photo of my kitty on Instagram. I focussed on each activity more completely; I enjoyed each activity to its fullest extent and best of all. Most of all, because my mind wasn’t being pulled in any more directions at once than it absolutely needed to, it got a chance to relax in a way I doubt it gets to very much. I felt a calm that people pay big money to relaxation resorts to feel.
That night, I drifted easily into a dreamless sleep and slept through the night and woke up a few minutes before my usual time in 4:45 AM.
Does this mean I will be tossing out my smart phone, deleting all my social media accounts and living in solitude at a yoga retreat? No. But, it does mean I perhaps need to re-evaluate what consists of “harmless fun” on my cell phone and restrict myself to an “emergency-only” policy of cell phone use right after work and before bed.
After all, those “likes” will still be there two hours later; as will Wikipedia.