I’m sitting in a beautiful cafe in Balmain, on holidays, as I write this in my notebook (and now quite obviously typing this into blogger). A few moments ago, I wasn’t writing in my notebook.
I ordered a coffee, and a yummy sandwich, and had scoffed most of it down without even realising. Why? I was on my phone.
In this very moment, I can’t tell you precisely what I was doing on my phone, just as I can’t really tell you how tasty the sandwich was. I was probably scrolling through instagram, checking the news, checking my feedly or scanning my emails.
It was only because a bit of sourdough got stuck my chest and I felt a little bit like I was going to die (ok, not really drama queen, I just didn’t chew it enough and so it scratched up my oesophagus a little) that I stopped jamming food in my mouth while staring at my phone.
I looked around (mainly to check that no one was watching this hideous display of human behaviour) to realise that I wasn’t the only one distracted. Even the barista behind the counter was checking his facebook. On one side there was a bunch of ladies showing photos of their teenage prodigies to one another and interrupting each others stories with a new photo. On my other side there was a couple having lunch across from one another staring down at their phones and iPads while their food was going cold.
It made me sad.
I realise I’m not the only one but I’m constantly switched on. Between my laptop, my iPad, my phone and my camera, I’m always connected to some kind of gadget and the rest of the world.
How fucking exhausting?
My poor husband has probably been awaiting this epiphany for quite some time as I’m sure he feels sometimes as though he needs to have a power cord to get my attention.
Because it starts from the moment I wake up. My alarm goes off and I figure, while I’m at it, I may as well check the news. And instagram. And twitter. Oh hell, and facebook.
How unhealthy is that? It’s an assault on my brain. I haven’t even lifted my head from the pillow and I’m in information overload.
Every spare moment I get I check my phone for emails, social media updates and messages. When I get bored of that I check my iPad (although it’s only got wifi capabilities and most of the time I’m nowhere near wifi). It started out as a cure for boredom, then became a distraction to procrastinate work or whatever. Now, it’s a stupid habit.
-Also, I realise that I’m relaying these words to you in blog form. Which is technology. And shut-up.-
Back to the cafe…
I put my phone into my bag. And zipped it up. All that was in front of me was my coffee and my two-thirds eaten sandwich. I sat, I ate and I drank without distraction. Letting the aroma of the coffee register in my brain, feeling the smooth texture run down into my stomach. I chewed my food more than once. I felt the sun come in the window and land on my face as it bounced off the white building opposite.
My poor waitress who seemed to be the only person witnessing my actions stopped by my table and quietly asked if I was OK. I smiled and said “yes, thank you” and I really meant it.
When I was done, I got up, paid my bill and thanked the barista for the excellent coffee. With my phone still in my bag, I wandered back to the car and drove home.
I’ve started to sleep with my phone outside the bedroom. I still set my alarm but now I get up to turn it off and then I sit down for half an hour to meditate.
I’m learning that it’s more important to connect with myself first thing in the morning than to connect with the world. That I waste too much time staring at a small screen being consumed with other peoples lives when I should focusing on what’s happening in this moment.
I urge you all, if you’re anything like me, to put down your phones – even if you’re reading this from your phone right now, it’s OK, you can come back later. Sit for just 5 minutes with your eyes closed and breathe. Feel your breath fill your lungs and when you exhale, let go of any tension stored in your body. When you’re done, feel how energised you are and how much difference it makes just to switch off for just 5 minutes. I promise you, it’s a wonderful feeling.