I have two cell phones. Ostensibly one is for “work” and one is for “friends.” But really, who am I kidding right? I have two cell phones because I inevitably use all the battery when I am at the gym longer than 90 minutes. I have two cell phones because the very idea of having to watch what the gym deems appropriate news media coverage while on a treadmill or elliptical is completely heinous. In my defense, one was completely free (thank you AT&T) and I watch at least ten lectures a week since I am in back in school, hence the battery suck. But I still have TWO cell phones, and I feel as if I am one of those people who walk around a gym talking on their Bluetooth because they are so goddamn important they couldn’t possibly disconnect digitally for their morning workout.
However, if I tell you that I couldn’t possibly manage my life at this point with a Fisher Price phone instead of an iPhone I would be lying. My little one is with me most of the time, my eldest daughter only uses the text feature to send snarky messages designed to make me laugh at inappropriate times and actually calls ONLY when she is hungry and wants to know when I intend to cook for her. I no longer have a couple of dozen people who bombard my text message feed to tell me they will be late to work because they are ‘surprised’ by the summer traffic. Or far more likely that they couldn’t possibly come in because they are too hungover or need to meet their parole officer or heroin supplier first. I no longer have a constant pinging stream of emails and phone calls and texts from farmers, delivery trucks and suppliers telling me they are late (they are surprised by summer traffic) or I really need to know BLAH BLAH BLAH right this minute. I not only am no longer connected to my business through digital means which means I am also no longer connected to the thousand emergencies a day that were not of my own making.
The people on the other end of my cell phone never need me the way they did in the past. If one of my girl or boy friend’s texts me to say let’s get together, it’s not a 911 emergency. They are grown up’s who plan things and don’t live their life in chaos. My clients are on a schedule with their health coaching and cooking class sessions and emergencies in between times are never of the level of “the fire inspector is here and we don’t know where the extinguishers are.” Or better yet, “the kitchen is on fire should we call the fire department?” In fact, the emergencies that I face right now are of an infinitely more reassuring nature: Momma I’m hungry. Come home and make me food. Momma I miss you. When are you coming home?
I started writing this little post and I was going to make all sorts of concrete suggestions about how you could manage your dependence on digital. I was going to use sugar as a metaphor and compare the two. I was going to talk about allowing yourself to become bored by going low tech with some old school media, or literally turning your phone on silent or even (horrors!) off. What ended up happening is that I realized that much like every other facet of my life I have allowed this one to slip into the comforting lull of a quiet occasional small ping reminding me it still exists. I haven’t allowed myself to get bored because there are so many things I want to study and write, or places to travel over the next gap year that I am really having difficulty making choices. Life is too short to get bored. As I sit here on one piece of technology, surrounded by others, I realize that my dependence on my electronics has subsided into a dull murmur when I am at the gym or in the car. I am just as apt to be listening to a meditation as I am to a lecture on dietary theory. Half the time my headphones are on and I have actually even forgotten they are there.
I am speaking quietly now, rather than shouting and hoping someone hears me or pays attention. I am writing and listening, not allowing the chaos that rages around me to penetrate the stillness that is within. I have found out how to rely on my own connections rather than cell phone towers. I have found that if I don’t try to think of my response to life’s emergencies then I can actually hear what is being said. I have found out that if I just listen to the quiet in my headphones, I can actually hear the voice I am supposed to hear.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t sound anything like my own voice or the sounds I am accustomed to making. It is quiet and sweet and murmurs like a small girl child who just climbed into my bed because of a nightmare. It whispers truths that I have not heard spoken aloud for a very long time. It is in the rustle of the bedclothes as your baby steals the covers. It is the ferocious bark of a little dog who thinks he is much larger than whatever dangers lurk outside. It is the clatter and clang and shush of a almost grown child who is pretty sure her smoothie making didn’t wake you, but the little dog did. . It allows me to hear my ‘why’ loud and clear after so many years of clamoring for an answer to ‘how.’
It is the whisper of coming home after being away for so very long. It is the whisper of my heart beginning to beat again.