Several times over the last few weeks I’ve found my phone in hand, search search click click scroll scroll, looking. I can spend hours poring over quotes and recipes on Pinterest, reading far too many articles that start with The Five Things Every Woman Needs to Know About whatever, liking your baby’s birthday party pictures and celebrating how John Down The Street is starting his car detail business, finally!
On Thursday I looked at the iPhone 6 in my unnaturally small hands, seeming to notice it for the first time. Maybe it was the cramp I was starting to get from working muscles and tendons that the iPhone 5 seemed to allow to atrophy, but it was a sudden recognition.
What the hell am I looking for?
My subconscious was rooting around working through an issue and there I was hoping to Google the answer. I tossed the phone to the side and closed my eyes realizing that the answer was never in my phone. How could I trust a Huffington Post article or Rebecca Who Only Tweets Inspiration to walk me through my psyche?
I watched people on the plane next to me the following day, nose in phones. In line at the tram to the baggage claim, nose in phones. In line for cabs, nose in phones.
Good God, what would happen if all cell signals were jammed for an hour? Can you imagine the collective sigh as people suddenly stretched their necks up and noticed *anything* other than a plague of information that has made our brains scramble when not entertained or distracted? Ok, clearly it would not be a sigh. It would be a wave of panic that would wash over the globe. It would be tidal. Then, once everyone realized it was not the apocolypse, shoulders would fall from ears and you’d hear the sweet hum of human connectivity. Maybe you’d even notice your lover’s eye color.
I personally think that some of us look to our pacifiers as a place to find information because we’ve become so accustomed to finding the answers outside of ourselves. The idea that we should honor our God-given gifts of emotion and logic and go within has become almost frightening. Media provides us escapism so we don’t have to, because let’s be real, an hour alone can be frightening if we can’t celebrate our ability to sit still. If you doubt me – have you ever heard a business exec find out the WiFi is down on his hour-long flight?
I recently spent five days in Hawaii at a lovely retreat that only offered WiFi in public places.
Five days with your own thoughts is a lot.
It was almost a forced slow down and at first it itched a little. I wanted to scratch my brain, my curiosity, my need to do something. I would wake up and listen to the sound of the ocean outside of my room and wonder what I should do. There were no emails to read, no Facebook to wake me up, not even a daily horoscope to make me laugh or cringe. Inevitably I would get up, take a shower and laugh at how quickly I could get ready when hair went into a pony and there was no one to impress with make up.
Do you know how nice it is to go fresh-faced for five days?
Every meal was a gift in that the caretakers picked produce from their garden and both breakfast and dinner were based on whatever was in season. My morning coffee cream came from their goat. A smoothie? They went and picked kale. Then they sat down and talked to their guests about the island and within thirty minutes I’d either charted a new adventure for the day or was drinking organic wine with a yogi based out of LA while we solved the ills of the world.
We had to turn off the house lights before we went to bed.
At 10 p.m.
The trip came about as a business colleague and I reached a maximum level of exhaustion toward year end and needed to get away. She said the word retreat, I found a deal on Jetsetter and all of the sudden we look wild-eyed because we’re in Hawaii with frizzy hair and no access to the world.
It was perfect.
In retrospect I look at the trip not so much as one of relaxation or even a vacation, but more of a reminder that our days are what we make of them. The answers are not in your phone. They cannot be googled and sometimes it is in the hum of life that the things you are searching for become crystalline without a sound byte or bullet pointed list to guide.
I think you’d be even more surprised to find out – you were never really searching in the first place.