Wherever we go, people are on their smartphones. Having a connection to the internet helps us avoid wasted time. Waiting for a bus, while in the doctor’s waiting room, or standing in a grocery store line are places to check email, network, surf the web, listen to podcasts, and the like.
I’ve caught myself reaching for my phone at the merest hint of boredom. It’s developed into a habit I’ve decided to break. I won’t stop using my smartphone, but it is now relegated to its place as a tool to better my life during the times I designate for its use. Part of my motivation is needing to carve every minute for writing and editing because of the tight deadlines I’m facing at the moment. That’s all well and good, but there’s a more important consideration.
It’s the same reason I abandoned watching television in favor of actually living life. Three years in the Australian outback without TV reception convinced me that I didn’t even need a television. Life was so full I honestly wondered how I’d had ever time for one before.
A smartphone has a more insidious appeal. It gives us news, entertainment, even a social life–and it does all this at our convenience. That’s a heady combination of reasons to engage with a smartphone.
I hope we don’t miss that listening to the silence is often the better choice. We all need uncluttered moments. How else can we think to cleanse our thoughts, put life in perspective, and listen to the whisperings of God?
Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is. Thomas Szasz
What is boredom anyway, but not paying attention?
The other day a child of four picked the flower of a common weed and bestowed it upon me with the ceremony due a priceless blossom. I laughed to myself about her sweet naivety without realizing until afterward that she had given me a priceless treasure.
Walt Whitman wrote about a similar experience in a poem entitled Song of Myself.
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. Walt Whitman
Such reflections do not come from staring at a computer screen, I remind myself. Remaining glued to one is a poor substitute for living life in all its colors.