It was one of those moments of uncomfortable panic.
I had just gotten out of my car and was walking toward the school office when I went for my phone, but my hands slapped an empty pocket.
I walked back to my car and scanned the driver’s side seat and the console in the middle, where I often jam my phone in the cup holder.
For a moment, I was lost in the middle of the parking lot, unsure of what to do.
I had the time to go back home but, at that time of morning, the freeway heading back to my condo was a parking lot due to all of the worker bees making their way to the office. In my mind’s eye, I retraced my steps and could only hope that my phone was sitting on my dining room table or my nightstand or the bathroom counter.
Do I go home and find it?
Or do I wonder all day where I left it and hope that it’s at home?
Grudgingly, I made my way to the office and then to my classroom.
First, I sent the people I regularly texted during the day private messages via Facebook, Instagram, and email saying I’d left my phone at home and that I would not be able to send or receive texts until I got home that day.
But then an interesting thing happened.
I was unavailable.
I spent a half an hour before class sipping coffee, listening to Classic rock on Accuradio on my laptop, and thinking about my first lesson of the day.
I was calm and unfettered, relaxed and comfortable.
In short, I was happy.
Just the day before a girl in my 6th period couldn’t find her phone. She became rather frantic. At one point during her search, she used another student’s phone to try to call her phone. Typically quiet and reserved, the girl suddenly made an uncharacteristic and spontaneous announcement to the class. Her anxiety was building and her panic, palpable.
“Quiet everyone!” she said, raising her arm. “Really. Quiet. I’m trying to hear my phone. My mother is going to murder me if I don’t find it.”
Her mother’s homicidal tendencies aside, this is a problem.
It won’t be news to you to say that I know that I have an addiction.
And so the does the girl in my 6th period.
And so, probably, do you.
But my behavior today, when I was less tempted to reach for my phone every five seconds, did not have the ability to scroll or check social media, or absent-mindedly flip through Voxer or Twitter or LinkedIn or a plethora of other time wasters and focus-stealers (except, of course, when they are actually helping us, which can, of course, also happen), taught me that I need to be much, much more mindful about how and when I use my phone.
It also taught about how little I really need to use my phone.
Virtually not all.
Again, I’m sure this is not news to you.
But let my experience be a clarion call that we can chose to put our phones down or leave them at home.
Not accidentally and with panic, but with intention.
Not with fear and anxiety, but with relief and liberation.
I am living evidence that the withdrawal that accompanies every addiction, also passes with this one, and then you live more functionally and with a more healthy outlook than when you’re constantly and mindlessly reaching for a device.
There can be more peace and serenity on the other side.
Put. the. phone. down.
It’s true that the anxiety of slapping my empty pocket created some panic in the beginning.
But then it went away.
I’m also pretty certain, though, that the next round of panic is going to come when I return home today and see that I have 427 messages and notifications waiting for me.
But not to fear: I’m also pretty sure that’s why God invented the “delete” button. TZT