by Christy Gualtieri
It’s long been one of my missions to be more present during the day. To stop thinking about what I need to do and focus on what I am doing; to stop obsessing about what could be instead of what actually is. I also felt that I was becoming too reliant on my cell phone. People talk (and rightly so) about the effect of technology on young children, but it’s amazing to see the transformation that happens to us as adults, when we’re too quick to access the web before the world. I saw it in myself – small things at first, like being unable to wait in line at the post office without checking my phone, for example – and resolved to start cutting down. Resolving, of course, to start on another day.
I ended up staring earlier than I thought, during a rainstorm. It wasn’t supposed to rain; at least, my phone didn’t tell me it would. But here it was anyway: rain in long, torrential sheets that blew sideways and sped down the street in rolling little waves.
Our power didn’t last long; it flickered a bit, then was out. My phone (and my husband’s) were at very low power, and after the kids were in bed, there was very little to do.
My husband loved it; he gathered up our flashlights and candles, and fired up his emergency radio so we could tinker around and listen for shortwave radio broadcasts. But I could feel the antsiness creeping in, and as the hours went by, I felt more and more uncomfortable.
Like most comfortable people, I don’t like to feel uncomfortable. And after a while I felt guilty for it. How many people around the world were suffering way worse than we were? How many were sitting in bombed-out homes, trying to remember the last time they had electricity? And yes, it was an inconvenience for me, but I still had water and gas – more than folks in our own country could say who had recently suffered a hard natural disaster.
I mainly missed the distraction. I’ll be the first to tell you that as a stay-at-home mom of two little ones, there are a lot of opportunities in the day to need to “check out” from the tedium (and yes, boredom) that is part of the job. I wanted to check out right there, to move away from the boredom and fill my time with just looking at things. And as I sat there that night in my grumpiness, I realized that this was the price I needed to pay to detach from my phone and all I used it for. I needed to go through this discomfort to really see how dependent I was on my phone, and to see how un-present I was in my own life.
When our power was restored, eleven hours after we’d lost it, it was just before dawn. I’d love to say that I only used my phone for making and answering calls after that, but things take time, even detachment. What I did come away with was a sense of knowing that I don’t need to know everything every minute of the day. I didn’t have to see what every person I knew was up to at any given moment. And learning that lesson will hopefully make it a little easier of truly letting go – of looking down at my phone and finally starting to look up.
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!