I’ve had a number of “enlightening” moments over the past year and a big one was how incredibly addicted I was to my cell phone. This sounds so shallow writing it, but I had been connected constantly since 1998 when I moved to Sweden and got my first Ericsson Worldphone. It was blue and beautiful and it could “SMS” which was really cool. It defined me. It made me feel important. It kept me connected to everyone and everything.
Since 1998, I’ve been constantly connected, not realizing how “disconnected” it actually made my life. For instance, in March, I found myself hiding my cellphone in the cushion of our couch while reading a book to my 6-year-old daughter. Checking it every five minutes. Not in any way present for Amelie. Fully disconnected. I felt like a drunk hiding bottles around the house.
In May, I was at an acupuncture appointment, laying there jumpy because my phone was over on the desk and I couldn’t check it. I thought, “What is wrong with me?” And that began a day-long look at me and my cellphone. By the end of the day, I’d put down my cell phone for good. I changed the message to “Don’t call this number any more,” and apologized to everyone at work and friends who didn’t know how else to get ahold of me.
The hardest part in the beginning was sitting at stoplights with nothing to do. I’m a big KGNU fan now. Co-workers said, “How will I reach you?” I said, “I’ll be in my office or at home, you have my land line don’t you? If I’m not at one of those places, I’m not available.” That was initially an unacceptable statement. But as the summer progressed, we got into a groove.
The impact this has had on my day-to-day life is immeasurable. It’s like I have my life back. It’s liberating. It’s freeing. I am not reachable at every second of the day. I can rake the leaves or be with my family and not stop when I feel a vibration in my pocket. My kids are ecstatic. My wife was totally supportive and loves me not having a cell.
Recently, it crept up again! My wonderful friends bought me an iPad when I was at my worst (physically and emotionally) in my entire life. Nancy didn’t want me to get one, but when I was in such bad shape they pounced on her, “Can we get him one now?” She caved. It was such a generous gift and the best grown up toy ever–like a big iPhone. Skyping, Sonos, Rhapsody, Exchange for my email, contacts, calendar. Lot of good fun, right?
Cut to three months later. It is with me at every moment. I bring it to every meeting, open it and look at my emails in no way present for whomever. It is back in the cushions of the couch and then the breaking point. I’m at a stoplight and there’s a Starbucks on the corner. I’m looking at my iPad and I connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and I’m so excited. Every time I stop at this light, I’ll be able to send an email or check my email. What a bonus!
So now my iPad stays at home. I’m wondering what this is all about? Why are we all so wrapped up in our phones? Some of us more than others. Is it a validation thing? An expectation thing for others to get back to me quickly? What does it fill on a deep level inside of me?
Here I am, probably one of the only people in my town of 80,000 without a phone. I know some older folks, 70+ that don’t have one but that’s all. Do you know any? Are they weirdos? Off the grid? Paranoid? I’m grateful for this change in my life and cannot see myself going back. Can you imagine your life without one?
This post was originally posted as a “guest blogger” on fearlessrevolution.com http://fearlessrevolution.com/blog/happiness-is-not-having-a-cell-phone.html