When I was young, my grandparents lived in a complex with a community pool. My mom and I would often go and visit them on Saturdays. We would swim, eat dinner, play a few games of Sorry! and double solitaire, and have strawberries dipped in sugar for breakfast. It was like a mini vacation for me [probably even moreso for my hard-working single mother!].
One ridiculously hot summer day [I think I was about 9], my grandfather walked me over to the pool. I couldn’t wait to dive in. As soon as we arrived, he realized that he had left something at home. [I would bet $5 that it was probably his styrofoam cup filled with mixed nuts OR a Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi in a coozi. He was a quirky guy, and memories of him still bring a huge smile to my face.] He told me that I could wait at the pool for him, put my feet in the water, but under NO circumstances was I actually allowed to get in without him present.
I sat on the ledge of the pool, beads of sweat trickling down my back, with my feet dangling in the cool water.
I inched my way over to the steps. Feet in the water somehow turned into me sitting on the first step.
The minutes crawled on.
I moved down to the second step, with my body submerged from just below the shoulders.
I just couldn’t resist any longer.
I dunked my head under the water and re-surfaced to find a very angry grandfather re-entering the pool area.
HONESTLY, WHAT was I thinking?! I mean… Once you’ve gotten your hair wet, you can’t really disguise the fact that you’ve taken the plunge [literally].
[In my defense: I was a REALLY good swimmer and on the swim team… I wasn’t scared of drowning or anything like that. I was apparently, also, a disobedient child.]
I think this is something that I constantly deal with in my life. I’m not really a “just the tip” sorta gal. I’m more “All ‘Er Nothin'” like Ado Annie. It pretty much permeates all aspects of my existence: love, fitness, sex, alcohol, fun, career, food. I’m all “Go Big or Go Home” and no “Everything in Moderation”. I think that’s why I was SO attracted to Snatched. For 6 weeks, I would just be BALLS TO THE WALL!
But, that’s a hard life to live. Eventually you burn out. [There’s a reason why Snatched is ONLY six weeks.]
Recently, I was talking to my therapist and I told her that I am unhealthily addicted to my phone. To be honest, this isn’t that surprising in 2013. Sometimes when I’m out with my friends, I’ll notice that everyone has their face buried in a glowing screen, not interacting with any of the people they are with. I’ll pull mine out and announce, “Oh! I didn’t realize it was phone time!” and then gladly check email, Facebook, and Instagram. And then probably email again.
The problem for me, however, is that in pretty much ALL situations, I am just waiting for my life to be revealed to me via my telephone. I just KNOW that my future is going to come to me in a job offer by email. Someone that I am interested in is going to text me. The phone will ring and then my life will begin. I check it incessantly. When I worked at a restaurant, I stored it in my bra [that is until I became convinced it was sending cancer straight to my boobs].
So while I’m waiting for life to get my digits and reach me via cellular device, I’m just not actually living. I’m just waiting. There are VERY FEW instances when I don’t feel the need to constantly check my phone. They include while I am at therapy, working out, and sleeping. [And that is ACTUALLY sleeping. I have to REALLY fight the urge to check my phone when I wake up to pee… And I only do that because I’ve been told that the glowing screen overstimulates the brain and it becomes harder to fall back asleep].
I thought about just disconnecting from EVERYTHING – internet, phone, Facebook – for a week and seeing how that went. But, there were so many logistical issues – work, friends, emergencies, whatever. And, though I’m NOT a ‘just the tip’ sorta gal in practice, in theory I DO believe that moderation is the key.
So, I scratched the complete disconnection idea for a new one. There’s only one rule to my new approach to my phone.
When I’m in a social situation, I’m not allowed to look at it.
I experimented with it yesterday. I had coffee with a friend and I went to a birthday party. It was at times both excruciating and exhilarating. But I felt like I was truly able to be present. ACTUALLY present. At the birthday party, there was an awesome band playing. [Side note: I am going to learn to play the guitar. It’s going to happen, 2013. Mark my words.] At one point, I looked around the room and I counted about half a dozen people with their noses buried in various glowing screens. Now, the purpose of this new life rule is NOT to make me a smug asshole with a superiority complex. No. However, I find it interesting that it’s just NORMAL to be “watching” a band in a bar, while completely isolating yourself with your electronic device. Believe me, 24 hours prior, *I* would have been one of those nose-buriers.
And, lest you think karma is just letting me escape the MODICUM of judgment I passed, as I left the bar, I [obviously] pulled out my phone and began responding to a work email as I walked down the street. A man [who I could see in my peripheral vision as I am VERY EXPERIENCED at walking-while-operating-my-cellular-device] SCREAMED at me “STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! PAY ATTENTION WHILE YOU WALK!”
Listen, sir. I’m working on it.