If someone were to ask me what I value most in life, my first answer would be my children. Although sometimes the truer answer is “alone time away from my children.” I’d quickly want to include my husband, many friends I can’t live without and a varied career to that list.
Yet I have so much proof that it’s all a lie. Because I will ignore each and every one of those people and things I say I value, at least once a day (but usually more often) when faced with a little, red, blinking light on my mobile phone.
From across a room, I can spot this sliver of color that means I have a new email, text or phone message. And once I see it beckoning me, I will pick up that phone and dive into the new information I’m receiving even while my supposedly most-important children are talking to me.
I will also interrupt myself while pouring my own heart out to my husband or vice versa to see who or what new message has just come in. I even look while I am simultaneously talking on the phone with those friends I say I can’t live without, because I can check what emails have come in while I am still chatting away.
And that’s just how badly I’m ignoring my values while I’m at home. Dare I admit that I sent more than one text message while rafting down a river in Bali? And emailed all through the desert in Namibia, and continued to work over my phone while spending oodles of money to relax on the tiniest island off the coast of Mexico. That in fact, I took my phone into a field with an Indian shaman and Robert Redford in Utah, just incase of…?
Just incase of nothing! Because even if my kids needed me desperately I was willing to blow them off for the one-hour The Sundance Kid and his Native American pal were going to fine tune my inner artist.
This just may be more proof that my phone, and any giant movie star I can get quality time with, outranks my kids – but it reminds me that I don’t really need the damn phone.
I’m also reminded that in a simpler time I used to just be in the moment with my family or entirely focused on any fun event that I travelled for hours to be apart of. I think I enjoyed both daily life and vacation time a hell of a lot more when I was present in each, rather than constantly teetering between my left brain in a moment and my right reaching down a wifi tunnel into every other aspect of my life simultaneously.
So in fact my phone, which I hardly ever use as a phone anymore, does not make my life less complicated. It has just made me a slave to it. This little red light is like an enormous alarm in my head now – signifying that something could be horribly wrong, or terrifically right, but either way, I must find out immediately – even if checking it might decimate my mood at the most inopportune times.
It seems easy to say, “just don’t look.” Or just shut off the blinking light. Or put the damn phone in the trunk of the car. (Which I don’t even think Oprah does and that was her bright idea.) Or even just leave the house without it once in a while.
But I can’t.
And with this admission of surrender, can I send a sincere wish of good health to Mr. Steve Jobs this week, as he moves on to retirement? I admit I’m hoping without this genius pioneer in the workforce to ever make another small and sexy product, followed up with a bigger than life marketing campaign that will enevitably make me buy whatever he creates – I might get the opportunity to go back to living in the moment and off my little white products.
I’m looking forward to begin the search for the answers to life’s questions in my actual life, again, and not in my ever-present phone.