My phone died just in time

Posted July 30th, 2011 by

My wife Lindi accompanied me on a recent trip to California. We included family visits along with the genealogical and museum-related research I did in Sacramento, Inglewood, and Santa Barbara prior to attending the Institute of Noetic Sciences Conference in San Francisco where I co-presented at two breakout sessions with Belvie Rooks and Dan Booth Cohen.

I use my Blackberry for phone calls and receiving emails while traveling, of course. I also utilize its GPS technology to direct us to locations in cities we’ve never visited or are unfamiliar with. I utilize its capacity to act as a modem so that my laptop can connect to the internet when we are out of range of WiFi hotspots.

I cannot live without my Blackberry. Or so I deluded myself into thinking…

Several days into our 2,200 mile journey my Blackberry ceased to accept a charge. The battery quickly diminished. When it registered merely 35% of capacity, I turned it off for the final five days of our trip.

Mild panic settled into my brain. How will we find anything? How can I stay in touch with anyone? I have two colleagues I’ll be working with over the weekend and we won’t be able to communicate. This is bad!

We rifled through the car and found — gasp! — a map of California. This relic from the past, a folded, somewhat tattered paper map, proved a good friend indeed. Lindi, of course, still had a fully functioning “smart” phone, but we didn’t have a car-charger for her Droid (of course the charging ports are incompatible from phone to phone… sigh…) so we stopped at one of the ubiquitous Verizon stores in one of the ubiquitous malls along the ubiquitous California freeways and plopped down $30. We contacted Belvie and Dan and gave them Lindi’s phone number and email address. I’ll be honest. We worked around my frustration with my dying phone with relative ease. The only thing we couldn’t remedy was the lack of internet access for my laptop away from hotspots. But we found those most of the time as well.

Two days after we returned home I acquired a new phone; an updated version of my old phone. I’m learning the newer technology and functions (my biggest frustration is my inability to delete the NFL football link that Verizon or Blackberry has decided that everyone must absolutely need; it couldn’t be that the NFL is paying for this unremovable feature, could it?).

Crisis resolved.

As I thought about the week I spent without my Blackberry I realized that the Universe had conspired (once again!) to teach me an important lesson at the exact time I needed it most. Far too often I found myself picking up my phone as soon as it vibrated to see what message had arrived. I kept the phone almost always within arm’s reach. I went on Facebook to see what my friends were posting or commenting on my posts (items I often added several times each day). It was clear that I’ve been spending too much time connected to technology and not enough time connected to my life.

I’ve made a new commitment to myself to spend less time checking emails, Facebook, and online news sources. Do I really need to know the hour-by-hour opinions regarding the debt ceiling stalemate and arguments about the religious affiliation of the man who terrorized Norway? No, I don’t. Netflix also offered us a gift. By raising their rates 60% we decided it is also time to cancel our subscription. I’m also going to write fewer blog posts for the next several months. I’m going to spend more time with people I love, more time walking, more time reading, and refocus my less-interrupted attention on my writing.

I’m not giving up my technological connections. Don’t be daft! But I am dialing them down. Sharon and I have a book to finish. Much work remains for the two of us to meet our commitments to Beacon Press and to each other. I’m grateful to the Universe, or my guardian angels, or whatever unseen force(s) intervened at just the right time to remind me of my priorities.

Of course, it’s a wee bit ironic that I just spent a bunch of time tapping away on my computer to share these thoughts with those who will spend time on their own smart phones or computers reading these words. I also paused a few times while writing this post to chat with my daughter on my new Blackberry about what time my granddaughters are coming over to spend the night with Lindi and me.

They’ll be here soon. We’re going to climb into our raft and float down the river.

I’ll see you here and on Facebook. Just not as often…

PS: a reminder from the Universe arrived the day after I wrote this in the form of Doonesbury…

4 responses to “My phone died just in time”

  1. Juanita Brown says:

    You just validated my ever-increasing internal nudge to simplify, that I may focus on the people, ideas and things that matter.

    With gratitude,

  2. Kevin Brintnall says:

    "It was clear that I’ve been spending too much time connected to technology and not enough time connected to my life." — a most quotable line in your blog. I am sure that we sometimes confuse the two. Thanks.

  3. Nancy DeWolf says:

    I hate to say this, but I'm glad your phone died! Love, Mom

  4. Thank God, Tom…. you finally "got it." As you well know, I have been preaching the benefits of quiet (non-technology) time for a while now. Guess it took a presumed disaster to convert you 🙂 Welcome to the club.

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