I’m sitting alone at a table in the front window of my favorite pancake slinging spot. This Saturday morning, like many Saturday mornings, the lobby is filled with a multitude of folks who appear not to have bothered to grab a comb or change out of their pajamas before deciding to venture out in public for breakfast.
It’s been 20 minutes since I realized I left my phone at home. At least I think it’s been about 20 minutes. I’m not sure… Because I LEFT MY PHONE AT HOME.
Something about not having that small, smooth object in my hand causes me to lose all sense of time and space. Is it Saturday? Has she tried to contact me? How the hell should I know? I don’t have my phone! I’ll just calm down and read something. Well crap, I don’t have my phone. I could text a friend and share my angst with her. Ugh..my memory is gone. Still don’t have my phone.
To the folks in the lobby, I must look like a toddler who has lost her pacifier and is right on the edge of an astounding meltdown. I can feel the unease building in my gut.
I can’t settle. With each passing moment without my pacifier, the scurry gets worse. Look at the menu. Dig around in my purse. Play with the salt shaker. Sip coffee. Fidget in my seat. Drink water. Turn the menu over. Then over again. Pretend to look out the window. Repeat.
The absurdity of the moment outweighs my sense of being an adult. Some part of me is aware that my phone is waiting patiently on the end table in the living room to nurture me when I get home. But the other part of me, the part currently captain of the S. S. Tara, feels exposed.
When did the smartphone become my protection? I was a fully functioning adult long before the mobile phone took the space my brain once occupied. I remind myself that people have managed for thousands of years in the big world before tiny screens came to save us.
As I talk myself down off the cellular cliff, I remember it’s just a phone. I’m not a three-year-old, and my phone isn’t my warm blankie.
Since this particular incident, I’ve been leaving my paci at home on purpose from time to time to wean myself off the little sucker. I can be perfectly safe in my skin even without my electronic binkie. When did the I’m-Gonna-Die-Without-My-Cellular-Shield nonsense invade so completely? It came on slowly. The most insidious stuff always does.
Beware the slow fade. With food, sex, wine, or work, we can slide from a healthy balance to a desperate dependence before we are aware of the avalanche of anxiety. It is also true of electronics and the many distractions they provide.
Through the everyday hustle of life, it’s hard to purpose each day for balance. When I don’t, I end up looking like a junkie in withdrawal on a perfectly lovely Saturday morning while the folks at the next table scarf down waffles.
This is your brain on wireless. Any questions?