I have nothing to say in my defense except that my left foot wanted it’s 15 minutes of fame. I tried to explain to it that it wouldn’t get that much but it begged. It said it has had a hard life, what with breaks and surgeries and the last time when it ended up in a cast for 6 months a bone went funny and the big toe hasn’t been able to bend even a smidgen since 2004.
I let it have it’s 15 minutes, and the thing is it really got a whole lot more because I was so mindfully playing with it in a photo manipulation program that I got it all funnyfied and rainbowish and spotty and now it’s happy.
The truth is that I wanted to write about cell phones and then it all of a sudden hit me like a ton of bricks that you simply cannot take pictures of your cell phone when your cell phone is what you take pictures with. So I looked up and the first thing I saw was my foot. Seriously. And, well, I guess I was just in one of those moods. I took the picture and I was off and running. If you’re ever stuck go for the foot.
Anyway, I have been thinking about this for days and then I thought today was the day, I had to write about mindfulness and cell phones, or rather how it’s very nearly impossible to be mindful with a cell phone, especially if you’re spineless, addicted to technology, and you got such a cool phone you can’t stand it. I am, of course, talking about myself.
Further, let me just put in a little aside here. In the age of “You’re only cool if you use Mac’s, have an iPhone, an iPad, etc, etc,” and after 30 years of using Macs I will proudly tell you that I happily use a PC, an android phone, and a tablet that matches my phone that has nothing to do with Apple products. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Apple products and if Apple would like to make me a spokesperson and gift me with that new iMac that is about 4 feet wide I would take it in a heartbeat, but a few years back my iMac went kaput and I couldn’t afford to go Apple so I grudgingly went PC and you know what? I love it. I feel that will make me lesser than in some people’s eyes but I just say fiddle de de, and go on my way.
This is all relevant and on topic, I promise you. I just kind of write around in circles before I get to the point. I talk like this too. I am a very confusing person to have a conversation with.
So, the thing is, since I didn’t have any Apple products I didn’t see the point of having an iPhone and was happy with the various Android phones I had. And then, early last summer, I got THE phone. I fell in love with a cell phone, in fact some days I feel as though I might be having an illicit affair with it because I can hardly put it down. I feel great shame over this, I promise you , but that hasn’t stopped me.
The phone? It is a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The Note 3 is now out and when my contract is up that’s what I will go to. My tablet? The Samsung Note 10.1. I am all Noted up.
The Note phone has a screen the size of a Big Screen t.v., almost. Seriously, my friends hold up their iPhones and are dwarfed by mine. I finally have a phone I can actually text on, though I don’t text often and really don’t like to, because the keyboard is BIG. An old person such as myself can actually SEE things on this phone. I am not a gamer of any sort and never have been but I am addicted to Klondike Solitaire which started 20 years ago with my first laptop that was black and white, no color screen, no internet, but by golly Klondike Solitaire was on there and I went all googly over it.
I’m getting to the point. Really.
And I promise you I feel very ashamed and as though I am coming out of some closet or other admitting this, but I’ve come out of a few closets in my life and survived so here goes…
When you live alone, when you have purposefully left society as it were for very many reasons, and you prefer silence and solitude, and you spend a great deal of time in meditation and prayer, and in the garden, all of which I do, and those things are the central things in your life, you can still get, well, not really lonely very often, but the internet is a very important outlet for me. I am online a lot because it’s where I work, but we all need human contact and this is where most of mine is. And it works best for me because with some of the issues that I deal with I can only really comfortably engage for certain periods of time and then I have to have quiet again. I’m like that in person too so it’s not just an internet thing. But once I got this phone it was so easy and fun to use we started having a dalliance.
And for those of you who have Siri, well, I have Sam. She’s my virtual assistant. You can actually set it to a man or a woman, you can change the hair and the clothes and — wait for it — you can set it so she speaks with an English accent. She just told me a knock knock joke in an English accent. And it was a good one too.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I have recently begun to have very serious talks with myself. They go like this…
I try to live very mindfully but my cell phone has become a problem. I recently, however, installed the Mindfulness Bell app and I love it. It will chime once an hour (Or however you set it.) and you stop and go into mindful mode. And you know what? It really helps.
But that’s not real mindfulness.
Real mindfulness is when the world really stops, and I do make myself do this. I will turn off the phone for periods of time. In an emergency my kids can call my office phone here in the studio but no one can call or text me and once I turn it off it is like falling out of the grip of an evil force. This is when I meditate, pray, and move into breathing and relaxation mode. I do this several times a day and it is my saving grace. But still…
I get off the computer usually by about 10. I get up later in the morning than most people because I work very late at night. I move slowly but as it grows later in the afternoon and then the evening I’m going like a houseafire. My circadian rhythms have long been askew so I just go with it. But here’s the thing…
I shut everything down and the pugs and I move into the Cozy Room. I have a ritual that is kind of my crossover ritual. (This is really pitiful isn’t it?) I like to play a few games of solitaire on my phone first. It seems to help me settle down from the energy bonking about and kind of draining computer energy that sucks you in and then leaves you flattish but your body is still humming and won’t calm down right away. Being bi polar I have to watch my energy levels and rein in my overly sensitive nature that could get so overstimulated it would just whirl around and around and disappear up into the clouds. I stop but the engine is still running. I have to step it down bit by bit. So I snuggle up with the pugs, and my cell phone, sigh, and I play solitaire. Then I am compelled to check my email. Okay, Facebook too. There, I said it. But then finally I feel as though I can settle down. I actually put the phone down, snuggle in with the pugs, and read. Or if I am watching a movie I knit. I particularly love knitting because it is a very mindful activity, in fact I now keep knitting next to my work area here and stop and knit and just do my slow breathing, in and out with the stitches too.
But I still can’t stop playing solitaire and checking FB here and there. Mostly I don’t, but then something in me goes rogue and grabs the phone.
Still I am appalled by people who go out to dinner with others and everyone at the table is on the phone. With other people. When there are people they supposedly wanted to dine with sitting right there. I’m sorry, that’s just wrong. (See how I pass judgment when I know good and well that in a while I am going to head to the couch and play solitaire and check FB before I settle down.)
But there have to be limits. I’m trying to figure that out. I do not answer the phone if I am dining with someone, here, or in the rare occasion that I am eating out. Short of being a doctor or someone who may have a real emergency and just peeks at their phone to check if they are needed, or a parent who may have children at home that need them, in which case you can peek and not answer unless it’s urgent, I think cell phones should be banned at dinner tables. But that’s just me. And nobody better suggest that I not play solitaire or check Facebook. The first person that does, well, I’m running right to Facebook and unfriending them.
See what’s become of me?
The point of all of this is that I continue the struggle, and win most days in a whole lot of ways, to keep mindfulness on the menu and make it a point of turning off the digital world. And I keep looking for ways to have more computer down time, turn it off, go out and walk with the dogs, work in the garden, read a book, knit, weave, or just take time for dreaming. I am doing more writing by hand. It feels good.
I think today we just have to really work at it. I think mindfulness is an important practice for all of us and most of us don’t live in a cave or a monastery, we do interact with the outside world, and this is the digital age and we are part of it. It is a balancing act and in the end daily I work at balance in all areas of my life. Being bi polar it is essential. So I will write and weave and do my work and turn things off and meditate and walk in the garden and get online and get offline and at the end of the day I will play solitaire and check Facebook. That’s just how I roll. And I think I’m doing pretty much alright.
[THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE.]
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, your strategies, how you handle the cell phone dance. Leave a comment if you’d like below. It would make my left foot so happy…