I Left My Phone at Home
Yesterday was an absolute beauty here in Toronto, a Sunday to kick off Spring in style. It had poured all day Saturday, so the whole town awoke to the joyous sight of a sky that was unbroken deep blue, from dawn till dust. We had zero plans so we just hit the parks with the kids for the first time in months. Some frisbee, a small zoo, a couple of playgrounds, and just enough forced walking to elicit a kvetch or two. It was a glorious, sun drenched day, perfectly spontaneous and unrushed, like those long-gone pandemic weekends, without any fear.
I left my phone at home. Totally intentionally. We had no plans, no one to meet up with. Our day was free, and I wanted to keep it that way. So I left it in the kitchen (and later, the car) and went into the world that rare thing: a phoneless human.
Leaving my phone at home (or in a hotel, car, or bag) is something I love to do. It is our era’s most casual subversive act, a baby step for the unplugged curious. It is simple, but to others, totally fraught. When people find out, say if they want to send you something during a dinner, and you say “I left my phone at home”, they are genuinely shocked, even angry and defensive. “This analog shmuck,” the looks say, “who does he think he is, leaving his phone behind?”
When you leave your phone behind you notice a few things:
You reach for that phone a lot. When you are bored, or angry or the conversation lulls, or as the microwave turns.
You don’t need it all the time. I am not an ER doctor on call, CEO, or world leader. An hour or two incommunicado won’t even be noticed.
You are instantly calmer. An anxious appendage has been removed from you.
You notice things. A hawk circling, a weird squirrel eating a bagel, your kid.
Time kind of floats by.
You never, ever regret leaving the phone behind.
I don’t do this often enough, and I’m as guilty as anyone of wasting too much time on my phone. But God do I love the moments when I am without it. They are undistilled and present, not in the cheesy Instagram mantra way but in the reality of living without the thing that too often gets in the way of life.
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