Ah, city life. Loving every minute of Chicago. The discovering, the noise, the cultures, the sights, the sounds.
like hearing the train rolling into the train station.
hearing the mass of conversations in the thickest crowd in Millennium Park.
hearing the waves hitting the harbor off Belmont as I sit in the shade of a tree.
hearing the foreign, heated discussion in a Turkish restaurant as I pick up my take-out.
hearing my own long, slow groan upon realizing my phone had been freaking stolen!
Of all things, not the phone.
I mean, take your records, take your freedom, take your memories I don’t need them.
And leave the sweater. But don’t take my phone!
You don’t realize how much you rely on something until it’s gone, isn’t that the truth?
Well, I had several life lessons to learn during the week-and-a-half as I walked around naked (technologically, or course).
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
I don’t have a lot of possessions and tend to live off very little and somewhat on the edge of homeless hipster. Though the problem with that is I don’t have many back-up alternatives. So when someone steals your basket full of eggs… it’s all over. But seriously, when I lost my phone, I didn’t have many options to compensate.
My phone has been my alarm clock since college. I don’t own a regular clock.
My phone was my map to get around the city and for traveling. I don’t own a map.
My phone was my news. I don’t have TV.
My phone was my journal and notebook. I don’t use paper journals or notepads.
My phone was my calculator, weather man, and bank. I don’t access the “real” ones.
My phone was my Bible. I don’t use my hard copy.
My phone was my source of funny. I can’t make it to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, so YouTube baby!
MY PHONE WAS MY LIFE!!!!!
I love how technology can simplify so much in our lives. I can say “No” to buying possessions and instead download a free app. It seems to make life more concise. And there are obvious benefits to this. When you’re really simplified (i.e., poor), it’s pretty helpful.
Yet… there’s something harsh about the realization that it was so easy to replace, well, everything with bits and megabytes. It’s like, hey, I don’t need this or you. I can get that from my phone. You are useless to me.
Suddenly I was very needy.
And in need of a back-up plan or emergency route. Prepare for life, cause this stuff just happens typically out of nowhere and by surprise.
2. Have friends.
Isolation is never EVER helpful or good. And not that I’ve been pursuing this. It’s just been one of the difficulties of transition to a new place, a new season in life. While I know a number of people in the suburbs, I really don’t have many friends or neighbors near me in the city that I can just be like, “Hey, yo, I need you!”
Well, and then I realized, “Yeah, maybe I do…” but I hadn’t put much effort into those friendships yet to the point that both of us knew that I needed their friendship and help when an issue came up. I guess it’s pride, you know, I’m sufficient enough. Eh, not good.
And also, just because you have friends on Facebook and you can keep up with people via text and Facetime, doesn’t mean that you have anything meaningful happening around you. It made me realize how much I need to pour into the friends around me instead of keeping them at arms length. I need people. I need friends. Life is never meant to be lived alone and independently.
Being needy isn’t a weakness necessarily. It’s simply the way we are made.
3. I was much more present with people.
When I was with people, having a conversation, or working, I can’t even tell you how much of a difference it was! Instead of the distracting buzz or pop-up notification from my phone that always took my immediate attention, it wasn’t even a thought in my head. I knew I wasn’t going to get any contact from anyone besides the person right in front of me. So all my energy and focus was on them and what was happening right now or maybe what we would be doing next. “We”, not some virtual person in the palm of my hand.
I also couldn’t use the crutch of looking at Instagram to find neat pictures and experiences of other people, wishing I was there and now I probably have to one-up them with my better experience. Chicago-style pizza is way better than yours YOU NEW YORK EXTREMIST! (just kidding. I take pizza however I can get it. Buuuut, Chi is better)
Instead, that person in front of me was my current “people” experience. I couldn’t escape to anyone else. I was so much more aware and locked into the moment with that person. There’s something to be said about being completely present without distractions.
4. I was much more present in my life and experiences.
Since a lot of my time in the city is spent alone, I usually go to a variety of places and enjoy it while I do my own thing. Except now I didn’t have anything to distract me from the commute, the people around me, the area, or the view.
I wasn’t thinking of what angle to take the picture, the status I would post, the funny situation I just encountered, how I would verse the inspirational quote that came to mind, none of it.
I just took it all in and enjoyed it for myself.
And I was happy with myself, with what was in my life, no someone else’s. I was 100% into experiencing my life, instead of 50% experiencing/50% scheming about sharing it with others. Which leads me to the last life lesson…
5. I didn’t care who knew or who cared.
I just didn’t care. Because I couldn’t. There was no way I could text someone about this event, post where I was at, share a picture of this food, tell the joke I knew was funny but didn’t have anyone to tell so I post it on Facebook to get feedback.
No, none of it. I had to let go. To just simply not care who knew what I was doing. To not care about who cared.
I think it’s so easy to find our “fill” with likes and retweets and hearts and comments and bits and megabytes.
But nothing will ever replace that sense of confidence that I am totally OK with me right now. That if no one ever knew or enjoyed it with me, that’s ok. Because I enjoyed it. I saw it. I experienced it. And no one else holds the power to determine my being happy.
To sum it up, I do have a new phone now. But I catch myself quicker now, realizing I spent 10 minutes staring down at my phone posting a picture when I was sitting directly in front of the most amazing lake harbor view of downtown Chicago.
Enjoy stuff like your phone, but don’t be controlled by it. You just might miss out on life.