I am always in control.
That is the mantra I remind myself constantly in order to cope with any sudden changes in the pace of my life, that could undermine my plans for the future. Being stoic calls for the ability to see reason in everything, so when my phone died, it was extremely difficult to stay stoic. Because when your life revolves around the one thing you almost always have with you, what would you do if it suddenly disappears?
This is the story of 24 hours without my phone.
If you are a normal person who lives in this time, you most definitely have a smartphone, a mini computer that connects you to the whole world. There would be a lot of rare moments when you DO NOT have your phone, and I believe you can’t imagine going about your day without it.
Your phone is the device that you may use to wake yourself up in the morning, and some people’s initial ritual is to check messages, browse their social feed or the net before going through the routine of the day. You do this while eating breakfast, or when idle. When walking around, you need your phone to tell the time, manage your schedule, organize events and plan with your peers. During the commute, you use your phone to listen to music, or to watch videos, or play games, to pass the time between destinations. And occasionally you use your phone to send messages and call other people.
It would seem to most of us that having a phone is an essential part of life, and you can never go through the day without it. Imagine losing your phone, what would you do?
As of now, with all the constraints I am experiencing, I can’t afford to replace my phone. One that can handle all my needs is beyond my financial capacity, and how I would go about the day without it seems impossible as I lay on my bed hoping that my phone would magically start up again.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, partially due to having drank too much coffee and partially due to my phone dying. I was in a panic, and I was doing my best to let it go: “there is nothing you can do now, just check your options in the morning because what’s important now is getting sleep”.
I proclaim to be a stoic, but it is extremely difficult to see reason that night. But I did eventually fell asleep, but when I woke up hours later, I was hoping for it all to be a dream and that my phone would be just fine. It wasn’t.
So my routine was broken. When I wake up I usually open YouTube and watch some news, but that was not going to happen today. So I got up, opened my computer to do some work before realizing I had to leave the house in 30 minutes.
Leaving the house was weird as well. I would usually put on my headset and listen to some music, but I was left to the ambient sounds of the street and the conversations of the barangay people. It was strange, spending 20 minutes doing nothing, just observing and listening. But my mind was fully awake, because I was counting the minutes that was passing by. Because my watch also broke the other month, I had no way of telling the time, so I was counting and when I got of the jeep, I was making every step count. Nothing’s worst than making someone wait for you especially if you can’t let them know the progress of your commute.
The rest of the day continued, and I was finding my hands reaching for my pocket searching for the phone that isn’t there. I was like an addict in withdrawal, I was having a hard time paying attention, and all I could think about was how to get a new phone fast.
“I could sell my stuff, get rid of some of my gaming equipment to get the money needed for a new phone”
But then I realized: THAT IS ADDICT TALK! I can’t be an addict, I’m a stoic, a stoic is never fondly addicted because addiction is losing the freedom to abstain. And I am not about to give up my freedom in any way or form.
I’m a stoic. I don’t get addicted.
But what did this experience taught me? Looking back through the course of the day, I did realize some remarkable things…
- Because I wasn’t watching nonsense on my phone last night, I was able to go through a couple of chapters more of my books (Meditations & 7 Habits).
- Because I wasn’t measuring my time and determining my actions based on the variations of the moment, I gave more importance to not wasting time instead of dealing with how much time I lost. It was more important that I make every second count. I walked faster, I made better decisions about how to plot my route, I was a better master of my time.
- I learned to value vacant moments. When I lost my phone, I realized how bored I was, and how much I was throwing away to insignificant things.
- My life did not fall apart because I didn’t have a phone. A lot of people go through a lot of trouble to fully integrate their lives with their phones, being social media active and power users of their social apps. But this leads to a dependence instead of control, as I have learned today. And breaking free from my phone was one of the best things to happen to me.
But this doesn’t mean I won’t be getting a phone ever again. I still need to stay in touch my family, friends and girlfriend. But I think I’ve learned to not be completely attached to my phone in the future.