Lost and Found
I woke up to find my smart phone had abruptly died. I tried rebooting it, taking out the battery, powering up and down but alas to no avail. I hurried to the Verizon store hoping beyond miracles that someone would have a solution. They did, but not the one I was praying for. The pleasant service agent within a few minutes of hearing my frantic explanation of what happened and my own attempts of resurrecting my phone, he promptly started typing vigorously on his computer while asking me details of address of delivery etc not looking up from the screen. I skeptically asked what he was doing, to which he replied “I am having our offices FedEx you a new phone.” My heart sank, as this was not the solution i had in my mind. This would mean that I had to resign to the fact that I had lost all my contacts, emails, calendars, over 150 Apps and more over my well adjusted and customized phone that took two years to get to know me and me to get to know it. We were more than gadget and master, it was basically my right hand technological connection to the world and my surroundings. I would have had to spend more frustrating hours resetting up all the features of the new phone. I left the store glad yet unsatisfied with not going home with my old functioning smartphone/my peripheral brain.
What happened over the next few days was interesting….
Having been cut off from the world, I decided not to let this get me down, I had several chores to do and plenty of reading, playing with my son, talking to my wife etc. Interestingly I spent more time looking up and overhead, and all around me. Not talking or texting and trying to take care of my son at the same time was a novel approach for both of us, he enjoyed my company and was glad to have his dad back! I spent more time with him than before, I accomplished more in these days than I had done in that week. Life seemed to slow down abit, with being able to experience the pauses of each breath and moment. Looking up at the birds (I was not looking up for divine intervention to get a new phone), looking down at the grass( which needed more watering), looking around at things to appreciate were more than the experiences derived from my high definition LCD screen of my smartphone. It dawned on me that I was the slave to the very technology I had customized to help me be more efficient and productive. Just who was controlling whom?
Lost and found, did I lose the gadget and find myself ? I wondered. I think we should all take that pause and ask ourselves in this world of technology who is serving whom? We have these computers, tablets, handheld devices, facebook, twitter, blogs etc. where we can communicate at lightning speeds to anyone, anywhere, anytime and everyone has access to us and vice versa even from the privacy of a restroom ( don’t pretend that you have never texted someone back while being on the can!) is it worth it? What are we missing? Personal peace, sanity and family time. I know of several friends who take their devices on vacations and keep track of work related emails while juggling rest and relaxation. Their explanation ?
” It’s too much work to come back to after vacation and you never catch up.”
I have seen children cycling and texting at the same time, adults driving and doing the same, who is looking at the road? Technology is so advanced that you can voice text, send it, and the recipient can have it read to them by the computerized voice on the device, why not pick up the phone and talk!!
Are we really this obsessed with these portals of communication that we have to reply instantly? Are we as a society incapable of walking in a straight line without looking at our devices, or typing or Bluetooth talking to someone at all hours of our day, on the road, or hallways, or at the urinal ( you know who you are!!)
So fast forwarding my technology free few days, I received the much awaited FedEx parcel with my brand new phone, which looked identical to my old phone minus the scratches. I eagerly put the new battery in the back, transferred my SD card, and turned it on. I waited with baited breath while it powered up and led me through a series of screens to enable activation. In record time, it was working. I immediately rushed to the bedroom, where I proceeded to initialize my email accounts, set up my accesses to calendars, schedules, download contacts. I started replying back to emails, multitude of texts from friends, co workers, office staff, and made numerous phone calls all apologizing for my being tardy in replying and being off the grid for few days. I worked diligently trying to customize features, download Apps, setting key ringtones etc all in a desperate effort to resurrect the spirit of my older phone in this new shell. Several hours went by, I had not talked to my son, who when I glanced over, looked bewildered as to who had taken away his dad.
During my reassembling my convenience gadget, I realized that not only had I forgotten most of the 150 apps, so probably they were not that significant in facilitating my life anyway, but all the various screens on the smartphone had default settings and apps that I did not want or need. So I deleted them and tried to think what I would put instead, quickly noting that a blank screen was as good as any, with only one or two icons. A minimalistic approach was not bad either.
I paused again, as I had become used to for the last few days, and looking away from my screen I realized that my breathing had changed, my thoughts had sped up, I was falling back into the pressured way of life. Determined on not to falter on a lesson that life had taught me I put the phone down, walked off to my one year old, picked him up high above my head and we walked into the garden to enjoy the morning. He was happy and I was overjoyed. His smiling face was all that i needed, the smartphone could not come close.
The lessons that I needed to learn were
1) keep life simple, You don’t need a lot to be happy
2) things don’t bring you happiness, you bring happiness by being present in the moment you are in, whether it is with someone or with yourself.
3) nothing in life is permanent and everything is subject to change and it can change in a blink of an eye.
4) unlike backing up your computer, you cannot back up your life so live it freely and happily.
I wish you well, and hope you have a great day, and look up from your screens, you may be emailing your life away, and turn off the screens, and look at the reflection in them, you will see the greatest of miracles, YOU !