It has been nearly two months since I’ve had a cell phone. The lack of convenience has cut down on a lot of casual contact. If I need to contact someone, or they need to get hold of me, it has to be an intentional act. It takes a little more effort. Serious conversations need to be taken seriously; rather than a series of text messages or a quick email, I’ve suggested face-to-face meetings, getting together for coffee or lunch, giving the topic and the person the attention they deserve. No one has complained so far.
It’s also been nearly two months since we’ve had internet access in the house or in the studio. Again, the casual web surfing is gone, the casual posting to blogs or social media has disappeared. It’s been replaced with intentionality. If I need to send a message, I write it off line. If I need to research things, upload things, download things, I keep a list. Once a day, I pack off to a coffee shop or the library, do what I need to do, and wander home. It requires effort, which means I really think about what I want to say and whether I really need to say it. I prioritize what I want to do, and whether I really need to do it.
Certainly I miss having streaming video, and the ability to watch things on demand. Yet with those distractions gone, I get more things done. I listen to more music, and read more. Katie’s been doing a lot of gardening and landscaping in the evenings. The pace of life has slowed down, and both our stress levels have gone down with it.
It’s been more than two years since I gave up having a car, and doing without a phone or internet has been a very similar experience. I can still do all of the same things, but I have to plan ahead. I have to allow time to walk, to the bus stop or the wifi hotspot, which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch; I get some exercise, and some quiet time to reflect and process. It gets me out among people, to meet new and interesting people. It makes me appreciate these things, transportation and communication and access to information, because I have to work a bit for them.
Over the summer, while Katie’s out of school, we’ll be spending time together in the studio, she making art, me writing. We’ll listen to music together. We have plans to walk down to the neighborhood park to have lunch on the grass, and to read to each other. We’ll both have bus passes, and passes to the Albuquerque BioParks, so at least once a week we’ll head down to the zoo, or the aquarium, or the botanical garden, or the beach.
For me, life is better without the noise and the mental clutter. Silence truly is golden. Doing without breeds appreciation, rather than frustration, as long as you can let go of feelings of entitlement.
Convenience is the enemy of mindfulness.