I’ve been without a phone for 7 weeks now. It’s been, in a word, transformative.
At first I was uncomfortable not being able to take out the phone at any moment. I used to take it out at least 20 times a day. You sit down in a social area, a restaurant, a bar, chances are you will think about taking out your phone. It’s comforting.
But I got over this quickly and became accustomed to letting my thoughts wander and sink a little deeply into my immediate surroundings. After a few weeks of this, I did begin to feel more capable of focusing — on conversations, on my activities.
I missed my family and friends. Facebook always connects you, even if you don’t speak to anyone or send a text, you check in online and you are reminded of the community you belong to.
Without access to this, you are released into the community of wherever you are. You are always there.
Hopefully you like where you’re at.
Sometimes I felt bored. For times during the past 7 weeks I’ve traveled alone. Hitchhiking, bus rides, awkward first nights at hostels. Some times were not great, and I missed my phone. There’s a play called “No Exit” where 3 people are confined to a room together, unable to sleep or close their eyes, and their surreal experience turns sour as they realized they will always be present with each other, through eternity. My memory of the book is a little rusty, but I believe the point was that this was their Hell, and they had just died.
And so it is that, like the characters of No Exit, I too feel reborn, as I am unable to close my eyes to the world around me. The difference is, I am not in a Hell, I am fortunate to be traveling in Central America, and my eyes are open to a wonderful world and a Gringo trail of like-minded travelers who I can meet and experience them while feeling every present moment. My phone died, and I was reborn into a Heaven.
And I have a secret for you: there’s no porn in Heaven.
Indeed! Now, If you’ve read this far, I’ll give you an example of how this phonelessness has changed my mind (my brain, my thoughts). It is not a flattering example, but it is a truthful one that just happened yesterday morning.
I had met a Bolivian woman at a nearby hostel and hiked a volcano with her, and we flirted, and we eventually went back to my tent and did grownup things. This relationship carried through to the next night, and the following morning, I made a comment that she did not like: “Just don’t have any expectations from me.” I said it casually, as we were walking down the hill to lunch. She instantly was upset with me. With good reason. I had just said a hurtful thing, out of nowhere (she had talked about staying a few extra days on the island, partly to spend more time with me, but had never said more than that). Anyway, we stopped walking and she began demanding an explanation of me — why had I said that, when we were just having a good time together?
Here’s where the phone comes in. Since going phoneless, I am always present. And being present with this woman over the last days, I found myself not enjoying her personality too too much. She was fine. I won’t go into details — she just wasn’t the type of person I would hang out with. We were both travelers and physically attracted to each other, but I knew I wasn’t crazy about spending time with her.
And so, standing on the hill, her demanding an explanation, I realized that the truth was best, though difficult to say. I said, “I think you’re great. And, as you can tell, I’m really attracted to you physically. You’re beautiful. But… I just don’t…I like you as much as a friend.”
It was the truth. It was more truthful than the alternative: extending the fling for 2 more days until she left the island with me not being totally happy around her and her thinking I was totally happy around her.
Phonelessness was a direct reason for me realizing my discontent around her, for my choosing to be honest with her and to allow the breakup, which became official when she walked away from me (for the second time) and said, “Bye.”
(As I said, this is maybe not a flattering example — I have some faults which are maybe apparent here)
Most of the examples are positive: I start conversations and relationships with locals, I use my brain instead of Googling everything, and my memory has improved drastically as I am forced to store information in my head rather than my phone. For real – memory changes drastically.
But the most important truth that I have gained from phonelessness (phoNo?) is the fact, and this is a fact, that I must be present, living in this moment, every moment, for the rest of my life, to eternity. You too, must live in your own eyes. And going 7 weeks phoNo will make you realize exactly what you truly enjoy, what makes your present moment a happy moment, or at least stress-free moment.
And then you can find your Heaven!
I recommend Nicaragua.