A few days ago, I was on my way to an appointment when I realized I had left my Iphone at home. It was too late to turn back and a sudden, instantaneous panic swept over me. As the anxiety took hold and my heart beat faster, I had a realization. Had I become addicted to this device? Why was I experiencing distress at being separated from my phone for what would end up being around seven hours? I had lived without one for the first 35 years of my life so why did it matter?
It then dawned on me how much of my waking life I am using this object. A portal to all of my communications with people, I felt an aloneness that struck me as strange. I started thinking about how this thing had altered my life and what this meant and how was I to proceed with this new reality enveloping me. As I calmed myself down, I started to be very specific in understanding why exactly I was having such a strong reaction. Without this phone it was like I didn’t exist to the world or other people. I couldn’t find out any information, wouldn’t be able to know if my boyfriend was trying to contact me, had no way of seeing my mail (both business and personal), no access to Google or Wikipedia to look up a random historical figure or event that came to mind, etc… Suddenly, I felt liberated. I was free to be invisible for part of the day. I didn’t have to respond to anything or anyone or be able to look at the news or dumb celebrity gossip. I had myself to rely on for entertainment and stimulation and I decided I would enjoy this time without any form of digital interruption. I happened to have a book on me that I had been carrying around for over a week. So, when I got to where I was going and had to sit still, I read. I read and had a conversation with someone that I had never met before and likely will never meet again.
There was peace, quiet, rumination, and simplicity. All qualities that animals encompass and want to share with our species. My cats never had to think about texts, emails, and Facebook. They never felt in a rush to do anything. They rested and breathed and that’s just what I needed as the day progressed. It turned out to be a blessing and a matter of perspective.