So, last week I found myself without my mobile phone for five whole days. “Somehow” the screen got cracked, rendering it completely useless until a repair shop could get the right part and fix it. Utterly unprepared, I found myself thrust into a world without data packages, instant text messaging and social media at my very whim. A world that I have grown unfamiliar with. For five days, I had no more games, emails, weather reports and calendar appointments to check from bed, in waiting rooms or at stoplights. I couldn’t take an instant picture whenever I wanted, call a friend if I needed or get quick directions on the fly.
It made me realize just how dependent I am on such a fragile technology. That in an instant, I could lose all access to my “cloud,” my daily planner and countless pictures and videos that I had saved in that little 3×5 black hole. For five days, I used my husband’s phone to make calls, I hand-wrote all my appointments for the day, complete with addresses and directions, I used only my laptop for checking Facebook, emails and the weather. And for five days, I was transported back in time, to where things were just a little less plugged-in and a little more simple.
I’m always inspired by reading blogs on living unwired and hands-free or the wistful historical fiction and Amish fiction novels which describe living a little slower, without power and all the technology that make our lives today so fast-paced. It reminds me of a simpler time just 20 years ago, being raised in the country without the internet, cable television or a million hand-held devices. Sure, we watched a lot of TV (all six channels that we had!) But we also played outdoors on my parents’ vast eighteen acres of hills and old-growth fir trees, using our imaginations and reading books.
Even seven years ago when I began having my own babies, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest an (gasp!) blogging didn’t consume hours upon hours of my day. I didn’t even have a data package on my “smart phone” blackberry. I “blogged” by writing each day in the stained, yellowed pages and fading ink volumes that I’d been keeping since the 5th grade.
But, here we are today in a world where everything is fast-paced, automatic and viral and I find myself longing to slow down a bit, go back to my roots and do things a little old fashioned, sometimes. I love the music genre of country (cringe, I know!) and one of my favorite country singers is the beautiful and spunky Miranda Lambert, whom I’ve been a fan of since her first album came off the heels of winning Nashville Star, the American Idol for country music. Her recently released song, “Automatic” rings so clear and true for me along these lines of desiring a simpler life:
“What ever happened to waiting your turn, doing it all by hand? Because when everything is handed to you, it’s only worth as much as the time put in. It all just seemed so good the way we had it; back before everything became automatic”
Her lyrics discuss exactly how I feel torn between worlds and memories from the past…putting a quarter in a pay phone, drying laundry on the line, recording the top songs from the radio on a cassette tape, letter writing with stamps and three-day delivery times, car windows with the hand cranks and Polaroid pictures that you “shake.”
I feel like I have made feats to bring myself back to a simpler life in some ways. I am a full-time SAHM; we’ve used cloth diapers on all three of our babies and I homeschool our preschoolers. I have a huge garden where I spend most of my springs, summers and early falls and then preserve much of its produce by canning, freezing and drying for the winter months. We don’t have AC in the house, so on warm, summer days, I despise the hot clothes dryer heating up our home and hang much of our laundry on a line in the backyard. I also enjoy making most of our meals from scratch, with fewer ingredients like bread, cakes and casseroles, rather than from a can or box.
So, five days after the “black-out” I had my phone back in all it’s glory…along with three missed calls, two voicemail messages and ten unanswered texts, but I had a new resolve not to allow myself to get too attached or dependent on this fragile devise. Because even though we have in-home Wi-Fi for our laptops, smart phones and iPad and own nearly every Disney movie ever made on dvd, it is still important to me to have a healthy balance of an unplugged life, full of the richness, innocence and beauty that sometimes only the “old-fashioned” things can offer…and that a shattered screen cannot take away. And I hope to instill in my children that despite the modern conveniences of this world, we can still live in moderation and keep some things in life a little simpler.