Around Christmas time in 2016, I was excited because it was the first time that all three of our kids “believed” and were excited that Santa was coming to town. My youngest was finally old enough to “get it” and apparently so was I, I just didn’t know it yet. I just wanted to soak the holidays in and watch them be so HAPPY! I turned off my phone for the holiday weekend and didn’t turn it back on for almost 7 months. “My, Joe has lost his mind, hasn’t he?” Everyone has one, he must be going “against the flow.” “He must not want anyone in his life, is he sad, is he depressed?” It got to a point where I couldn’t even stand moving my wife’s “I” phone on the counter! About 2 months earlier, my job as an insurance fraud investigator got moved from my house, with a company car, airline pass back and forth to Vegas, to back into the dreaded cubicle. One of the worst boxes of all boxes to put anyone in by the way (my opinion). I’m going to get sidetracked here for a moment regarding the cell phone, please bear with me.
I worked in the “Special Investigative Unit.” Funny thing was, I never felt so “special.” Cohorts not in the “Special Investigative Unit” often had a natural resentment against our department. They were right to feel that way. Special is a word of separation. We do it all the time, first thought for me is “special needs.” Why do we separate so many things but most importantly people? Truth is, we are all special. Let’s examine the “mentally challenged.” In relation to what? I love jiu jitsu but it “mentally challenged” me for a long time and still does. Mind blowing every class! So, “mentally challenged” in relation to WHAT? When you find out, please let me know. Think about the words used every day. They can be sharp, dull or piercing. Don’t allow them to be that way, use them with love. Excuse the rant!
Anyways, back to my relationship with my cell phone. Once back in the office, my cell phone was my BFF. I didn’t want to be in a cubicle, in a building, in a system or doing what I was doing. I wanted to be out and about, connecting with people, seeing them, feeling them, understanding them so I could understand the job and do it the way I loved to do it. I’d plug in my headphones to drown out the noise so I could attempt to focus on the task at hand. When I got up to use the restroom or to stretch my legs I’d still be connected to my phone trying to catch up on texts, email, news, social media etc. When I went on break I would go for walks with my phone and listen to music to help separate from the chaos I was experiencing within. In a sense (which was my reality), the phone became an extension of me. It would vibrate, it would ding and it would tell me it needed me. I would react to it, tend to it and allow it to control me in ways I never knew. So, with the holidays I regained an independence that I hadn’t felt in sometime. I told my wife I just didn’t want to turn it back on and thankfully she supported me. I would leave the house and feel like I was forgetting something but I felt so free because I could go anywhere at any time and just do what I was going to do. I didn’t have the distractions of the ding or a vibration in my pocket. If I was at a stoplight I would wait patiently for the light to change and observe traffic and people around me. I would look at people, smile and wave. If I couldn’t find a location, I would ask a “real live person.” At work, I would get on the elevator and notice how everybody immediately grabbed their phones to avoid the awkwardness of being near someone and having to communicate. I was that guy that would say “good morning,” “hi” or crack a joke regardless. Often it was received well, sometimes not, but I gained new relationships with people. At home, my children had my undivided attention when there wasn’t a phone I had to plug in or check to take me away from whatever I was doing with them. I didn’t check it last before I went to bed or first thing when I woke up. I was free, I was just living, me. I realized that phones were not a necessity, but only a luxury. It seemed that everyone had one, because everyone else did!
I had just bought my phone a couple weeks before I decided I was going to turn it off. I attempted to take it back to the carrier but they would not accept my return. I attempted to sell it several times to no avail. It was clear that I would need this phone. So, it was tucked away in a cabinet for 6 months. As time passed, I was disconnected yet became reconnected. Reconnected with ME. The ME, that I became so distanced from. I was lost in unflattering ways I didn’t even know. It came clear to me that I would need that phone as people would need me. I kept the phone with the intuition that it would soon be activated. That came after I decided to leave my job. Reconnecting with my inner self has put me on the path I am on. It became clear to me that people were more important than the phone all along. I had it backwards, I put the phone ahead of people. Now I use my phone, it doesn’t use me. I’ve learned to have a healthy relationship with a cell phone of all things!
Like anything else in life there must be balance. Shutting off the phone or putting it in its place gives you a direction of balance immediately. Set up boundaries with your phone (and other “things”) and find out how much “you time” you get back. What will you do with all of that extra time called life!?
Have a great day!