Do you remember the spaciousness of life before smart phones? I do – but only just.
A couple of months ago, I had a self-imposed phone-free Sunday. It was time. I was tired and frazzled and a little out of sorts. Like there was a constant hum of static over everything I couldn’t quite escape.
So, I made the decision on Saturday night. No phone tomorrow. And I woke up and stuck to my guns (although it wasn’t easy). And a strange thing happened…
I remembered what it was like to wake up and have a whole expansive, boundless day before me. I remembered picking up a book and getting truly lost in the story – checking the clock and discovering a whole two hours had flown by. I remembered vast school holidays of nothingness, out of which sprung made-up stories and buried time capsules and riding my BMX with my sister up and down and around the driveway at Nan and Pa’s farm for days on end. I remembered bouncing on the trampoline, gum leaves stirring above on a gentle breeze, the crispness of dusk settling over the garden. I remembered filling journals with innocent, angsty poetry. Much-loved cassettes (!) that became the soundtrack to various spontaneous dance parties and concerts. Sitting up in my favourite tree (again at the farm), bare legs dangling, watching sunset creep across the valley as Pa played the piano and Nan prepped the nibblies. I remembered what it was like to be bored during the ads on TV (God forbid!). To sit and just be still as Mum patiently, lovingly brushed my hair. I remembered the vastness of time, a clear head and connection – to the world around me, to others, and to myself.
This was quite miraculous, because life these days often feels dense and heavy. Like wading through a pool of thick, wet concrete – the ladder out never quite within reach. No doubt this brain fog is caused by the volume and voracity of information we expose ourselves to every day via our various mobile devices. In fact, I’m sure I could find countless studies on the subject, if only I had the time to go looking (oh, the irony).
Despite my Sunday epiphany, I certainly don’t have the answers. I suppose now would be the opportune time to offer ‘3 Quick and Easy Tips for Unplugging’, but – let’s be honest – nobody’s going to follow them. I still have that rather-confronting iPhone indentation on my right-hand pinky finger. I still find myself mindlessly scrolling through my various social media accounts while another much-anticipated cup of tea cools and congeals.
There’s no escaping social media, and of course it’s not all bad. I love getting a glimpse into the daily lives of my family and friends. I love what it offers my business. And I love that my favourite app, Instagram, prompts me to seek out and creatively capture the simple pleasures in my everyday life.
As with everything though, balance is key. And what I do intend to do is bring a greater level of consciousness to my usage. I want to give my husband my undivided attention when he gets home from work, because I’ve missed him and want to hear about his day. When my Mum and sister visit, I want to be all there – savouring the moment (because who knows how many we’ll get). I want to be a good wife and daughter and sister and friend. I want to take it all in, and give as much back as I can too.
Perhaps the answer is to simply stop and ask mindfully, “Is scrolling through my phone really what I want to do right now? Or would I prefer to read / draw / walk / take a bath / just be?” Let’s ask ourselves the question. And if something else emerges, something other than scrolling and liking and stalking, let’s do that instead. Let’s put the phone down. Be present. And really engage with the nitty gritty juiciness of real life, in all its guts and glory. Because ‘Joie De Vivre’ is just that. The joy of living. Here and now, in real life.
Not through a small, finger-smeared screen.