Monday, 16 January 2017

Am I bored enough yet by Lynda Alsford

"Don't it always seem to go. That you don't know what you've got till it's gone". I realised the truth of these words from Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi over Christmas. On Christmas Eve I got in my car and drove to Essex, some 90 miles away, to spend Christmas with friends. I thought I had everything with me. I stopped at a service station on route. I put my hand in my bag to get out my phone, so I could tell my friends there was not much traffic and I may arrive sooner than I had said. But there was a big empty space where my phone should be. I had left it at home. 

My first thought was 'Oh no'!  This was quickly followed by a sense of peace and relief that I was not tied to the phone. I would have a true break, with no-one being able to contact me. I relished the experience. 

Photo by Anete Lusina via Unsplash
I arrived at my friends' house half an hour earlier than I had told them and they were not in. I couldn't ring them to tell them where I was. I didn't know if they were OK and delayed or had had an accident. They were ringing me to tell me they were delayed and getting no response from me. They were anxious about me too. I didn't have their number written down anywhere and didn't know it off by heart so  couldn't ring them from another phone. 

Apart from this initial worry I found my phone-less Christmas enjoyable. I was more present with what was going on. I could only focus on where I was at the time, who I was with at the time and what I was doing at the time. I could really be with them. I wasn't looking at my phone every 5 minutes. I didn't realise how often I looked at my phone until I didn't have it with me. 

This experience has made me decide to try to use my phone less over the coming year. I want to learn to concentrate on one thing at a time. I want to be more present with what is going on around me, whether that be silence, conversation with friends or a TV programme. I may find I observe more of what is going on around me, which I hope will improve my writing. 

Photo by Mohammad Bagher Adib Behrooz via Unsplash
My experience has also made me realise that I don't often stop and just spend time truly relaxing. I am always doing something. I'm looking at my phone, the TV, my laptop or a book. Even when watching the TV I often have the phone in my hand playing scrabble or doing a jigsaw on it. It's constant stimulation. I often end up not giving any one thing my entire concentration.  I am rarely bored. I think it may contribute to increased stress levels and decreased creativity. Perhaps we need some time to be bored in order to increase creativity. 

I am reminded of the poem by William Henry Davies

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    No time to stand beneath the boughs
    And stare as long as sheep or cows.

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began.

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

What do you think?


  1. Great post, Lynda. I often find when away on holiday and internet access is poor (it isn't great at home either!) that it is refreshing to take a break from emails, phone etc and just 'be'. So important and something that we have largely lost the ability to do.

  2. I am really beginning to realise what a detrimental effect it has on me, being constantly stimulated like that

  3. We have a family house on the Hebridean Isle of Iona. The journey there from Central Scotland takes about six hours and involves driving about 120 miles (35 of these on a single track/passing place road) and taking two ferries. Phone reception dwindles as the journey proceeds and is gone entirely before we even set foot on Iona. For two weeks a year, I put my iPhone in a drawer and live in the moment and place I am in - a stunningly beautiful place. There is Internet access in the house and a pay phone outside the village shop so we are not completely cut off. But, when we are out walking, sailing, exploring and when we are in the house with our four or five house guests, cooking, sharing meals, playing games, having long discussions about any and every thing, we are in the moment and fully engaged with it. I always come home refreshed and reinvigorated.

    1. Sounds heavenly!! A true break from everything. I am just starting to try to cut out some of this constant stimulation.

  4. Lynda, during a season when I already feel overwhelmed with an overflowing inbox and numerous social media notifications (despite turning most of them off) that I have no real energy for, this post suggests a digital detox may well be in order! It's surprising how easily we get addicted to our devices, isn't it? Sometimes I wish I had a Kindle purely for reading books, rather than an app on my tablet where the potential for distraction is enormously high. Thank you for steering me in the right direction! :)

    1. I hope you manage your digital detox. I hope to do better. I have not managed to stop much since being reunited with my phone!! I will keep working at it though. I am convinced it will be beneficial.

      I am blessed to have a Kindle so don't have an app on my phone. I also don't take my phone or laptop into the bedroom. I have an alarm clock so don't need the phone in the bedroom at all. I have one room which I am free from most devices, no TV, computer or phone.

    2. Thank you, I hope I manage it too, Lynda! Though it may have to wait until I've completed my stint on two consecutive book launches and don't need to see any new notifications for a while. Though blogging always leads to needing to check for comments needing to be answered.

      I keep the phone out of the bedroom but use the tablet there, mainly because I need to rest, relax and read for periods during the day. And I keep both devices on silent, so I have to make a conscious choice to check them. Every little helps, including a device-free zone in the house!