Last week I overslept, spent about a minute and half with my house guests, and then ran out the door with my shoes still unbuckled and a list of the one million things I felt I needed to accomplish before 10 am frantically spinning around in my head. On the drive down the hill towards the BART station, I fumbled around in my purse (while keeping my eyes on the road, natch) for my phone. At the stop sign I glanced over at my phone and saw a black screen. I pushed a lot of buttons and said several choice swear words, but it didn’t change the fact that my phone was dead as a doorknob and I was unable to call, text, email or get a jump-start on my to-do list. Suddenly my plan for taking care of those million things via that little itty bitty computer in my hand blew up. Houston, we have a problem.
Now given that I’ve been on this planet for approximately 54 years and didn’t get a smart phone till about 5 years ago should mean that I know how to get things done without one. I kept telling myself that as I started hyperventilating. I’d distract myself for awhile, then all of a sudden one of those nagging little tasks would pop into my head and I’d reach for the phone in order to make a call or send an email. It was like a missing tooth that I kept forgetting was gone until my tongue located the empty space it used to occupy.
I read on BART instead of texting and my thumbs got a short break, even if my brain was having trouble letting go. On my the walk from the station to campus, I noticed that San Francisco was having a rare sunny day, and I savored the feeling of warmth on my head and skin as I strolled towards my destination. I also people watched, and experienced a brief flash of smugness because I wasn’t fixated on my phone like most of those around me, but was actually living in the moment and enjoying the day.
Half an hour later I was standing in front of a group of students who had just arrived in San Francisco from Mexico and were about to embark on a month-long adventure living here and improving their language skills. They were eager to speak English, listened attentively to my presentation, and they asked many questions about how to make the most of their month here without spending a lot of “dinero”. Since practicing my own foreign language skills, interacting with people from other cultures, and being my alter ego, “Julie, the Cruise Director” are amongst my favorite things, I finally relaxed, and forgot about the damn phone and my to-do list, at least for awhile.
Considerably more relaxed, I headed back to my office and plugged my phone into the spare charger I keep there. Minutes later the little battery icon popped up on my screen and started to fill up with green. Crisis averted. Houston, we have lift off, and I had a good reminder to step away from the phone from time to time and to focus more on being and less on to-doing.