Thursday, May 2, 2013

Paying Attention

A friend shared the most wonderful quote from Anne Lamott the other day. Anne said, 
"That's all you have to do today: Pay attention--being a writer is about paying attention."
So, in honor of Anne, here’s what I noticed today.

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment, and as I sat in the waiting room—just for a minute, it didn’t take long—I reached for my phone in the pocket of my bag. It wasn’t there. I knew exactly where it was--beside my bed where I left it this morning.

I surprised myself by noticing even the slightest feeling of anxiety that I had forgotten my phone. As if I had become one of “those people” who cannot be without their phone even for a few hours.

I thought about going home to get my phone immediately after my appointment, even though I had planned to run a few errands after the doctor and my house was completely on the other side of town, which would mean that I would probably waste a good 30 minutes in a fairly busy day.

My slight anxiety rose as I wondered if I had any emails. I wondered if my girls would need to get ahold of me. I wondered if B would need me. I wondered what I would do while I waited for the doctor, a certainty, if I didn’t have my phone with me.

And then, just as quickly, I sat back and chastised myself. Good grief! I couldn’t make it even a couple of hours without communication? That’s ridiculous. What happened just a few years ago, before the iPhone, when we didn’t have constant access to the internet, and we went to the doctor and read magazines for an hour?

What happened when my girls were little and I left them with a babysitter for a few hours while I happily trotted out the door with NO PHONE AT ALL? Back then, I just had to trust (!) that they would be fine.

And they were.

So here’s what I noticed today. I’m tethered. And I don’t like what that has done to me. Not that having a phone has made me a bad person, but inwardly, I wonder what it has done. 

It has made me more available. All the time. Do I want that?

It has caused me to be less “in the moment.” My thoughts turn from what I'm doing presently, concretely, to what I might need to do virtually. I hate that.

It has made me just a little less trusting that God would take care of things. Like I said, there was a day when I just had to "trust" that all would be well when I walked out the door. That my children could cope without me for a while. They did.

And it has made me restless, bored without something to look at all the time. This almost bothers me the most. Why am I anxious without something to DO? What ever happened to down time?

You know what turned out great, though? After my exam, the doctor left for a bit, but needed to come back to talk to me about a few things. While I sat in the room waiting, that’s all I did. 

I just sat there. 

There were no magazines available--only children’s books (another interesting thing I noticed!)--so without my phone I just sat. 

I leaned my head back against the wall, and I thought about things. I let my mind wander, and my thoughts took me to my husband and my kids. I took a quiet minute to pray for them. I thought about my parents. I thought about the fact that tomorrow is the last day of class.

I just thought. In the peace and quiet of the doctor’s office.

Without my phone.

So tell me, how do you feel when you forget your phone? Untethered? Or free?


  1. I also recently spent time waiting in the doctors office (over 2hrs of waiting!) and even though I had my phone with me I opted to sit with my eyes closed to relax, reflect and meditate. I was doing several tests to find out if there was anything seriously wrong with my vision and was a bit anxious. Thankfully all is ok but taking the time to just sit and BE was very helpful in keeping my sanity over those two hours. Kudos to you for being "unplugged" and surviving!

  2. I am really pondering this issue a lot lately! You are so right, years ago, we didn't need to be tethered and the scary thing is, we are missing the life happening all around us. Thank you for the reminder. Blessings!

  3. I definitely panic when I don't have my phone with me. And then I feel ridiculous. But it doesn't make me feel any less panicked...