Before I head out the door to go anywhere I usually make sure I have the Holy Trinity in my possession: Cell phone, wallet, lip gloss. Last night after work, I failed to do my Holy Trinity check and it wasn't until I was on the subway that I realized the error of my ways. It was too late. I couldn't stop the train or turn it around to go back and retrieve my phone. I dug and dug through my giant purse hoping that somehow it fell to the bottom and I just didn't see it. I found 12 (yes, I am serious 12) tubes of lip gloss but no iPhone. The idea of suffering through a train ride home with no emails to read, no to-do lists to make and no music was paralyzing. The train ride would, in fact, be boring. Boredom ... I shudder at the thought!
You know what? The ride was not boring. Nor was the rest of my night. I looked around the subway car (something I rarely do on the train because I am so engrossed in clearing all the jelly in Candy Crush) and spotted a friend of mine. We spent the ride uptown chatting and catching up. Then, I managed to run errands without checking Google Maps to make sure I was going the right direction. I waited on a stoop outside of a massage parlor and read a magazine instead of texting my friend to tell her that I was already inside.
The liberating effects of being phone-free were almost immediately intoxicating. My massage was relaxing -- truly relaxing. While my toes were rubbed, I wasn't distracted by a phone vibrating in my purse; I didn't have the typical nagging feeling that I should get up and check my email because I simply didn't have the option.
Later that night at dinner I had a real conversation with one of my very best friends. The absence of my phone made it abundantly clear how often I actually stay glued to it. Admittedly, there were times during our meal where I felt the twitch to do my usual routine: Check work email, text my boyfriend and see if I have any new Twitter followers. Even writing that sentence feels like some sort of joke: do I really live in a world where I need to know if a stranger is following me on Twitter instead of giving my undivided attention to a person who, if I were arrested, would be my one phone call to bail me out? Something about that scenario is just wrong.
Being forced to spend just a few hours tech free was a liberating, illuminating and a sort of sad (in the pathetic sense) experience. How did I even get so twisted into tech? Don't get me wrong -- I am absolutely a work-a-tech-a-holic and will probably remain so despite my short spat of newfound freedom. Of course, I love how things like FaceTime and texting keep me up to date with my family since I am far away. BUT... my job, my life and my social calendar didn't crumble while I spent a few hours enjoying my life.
There is a world happening outside of the small device we've been convinced is connecting us to big. Yesterday was a beautiful night in New York City, and I looked around and saw it for the first time in what felt like forever. Try leaving your phone at home for just a few hours, or maybe phone-stacking is more your style. You might be surprised at what you're missing. One word of advice, wear a watch -- getting through the night with no concept of time was definitely the biggest challenge to being phone-less!