Getting off the phone

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sooner or later, I was bound to drop my phone in the pond. Nearly every day I take our dog, Clementine, to a nearby pond to swim, and typically I'm holding a leash, a small bag of treats, and always my phone. This particular day, I put my phone under my arm to throw a stick, and it slipped and fell in the water.

It spent the next few days charging in a bowl of white rice. Each time I took it out of the rice and unplugged it from the charger, the phone turned on and off at will until it quickly lost all power. Even the short trip from charger to desk was too far, so back it would go.

I needed a new phone, but time got in the way, and for several weeks I did nothing about it. I simply left the phone charging and checked emails and texts from the kitchen counter. And I realized: not having my phone with me was something of a life-changer. Before, when I was stopped at a red light, I would check my phone. Before, while I waited at the orthodontist for a child to be done, I would read emails, send texts, or look at Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. I'd hear the ping of a new email or the different ping of a new text, and I would check as soon as I could.

Not having a phone with me meant sitting quietly at a red light, or reading a magazine at the orthodontist, or, even better, talking with the person beside me. I realized that before the phone-in-pond incident, I was on it all the time. I'd like to think I was better about it around my children, but I know I wasn't perfect. I know this because one night my oldest daughter, Kate, said to me, "I think not having a phone has been good for you."

I bought a new phone this weekend. I feel more comfortable having it with me when I'm out. But I'm going to try to hold on to my new after-the-phone-fell-in-the-pond life. I'm going to sit at a red light and pretend it's back home, sitting in a bowl of rice. I'm going to leave it in my bag while I'm waiting at the orthodontist. I'm going to try to be a little more present. And when I take Clementine for a walk, I'm going to leave it on the kitchen counter.

(Photo by Livvy Fletcher)


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