Twelve weeks have now passed by since I first caged myself up like a sick dog. The walls have become my cell. Well, actually the walls of the garden have become my cell since the bizarre warm weather has continued. Every day another day in paradise. Barely a cloud in the sky. It’s been unheard of to consistently have this much good weather in the Uk. If there are God’s they must have a great sense of humour, ‘Let’s give them blue skies everyday but make them all have to stay at home everyday and not be able to travel anywhere to enjoy it.’
Yeah we can still go some places, but they have to be close to home. If you drive anywhere far away you’re supposedly taking a risk. Personally I don’t see the difference so long as you remain socially distant.
I’d woken up fairly early for a change. You know what? For once I had a really good sleep. I thought, ‘What was different yesterday to every other groundhog day I’ve had lately?’
Well I figured it out. At first I thought it was the fish I’d ate. Nope, weren’t no fish eating. It was the distinct lack of phone use the previous day. I’d spent so much time on Instagram and YouTube and other time wasting websites that I’d actually got tired of it and barely opened them. Maybe to much of a good thing can be a good thing sometimes. I decided right then, ‘No more of that god damn phone.’ I didn’t even look at it. I waited the obligatory fifteen minutes for my old brain to catch up to my young body and then jumped out of bed. Threw on some unwashed jeans and a summer jacket and headed out straight out the door. Along the street and up to the right. Up and up and up. Its a steep old hill but I’m lucky enough to live right by one of the best view points in Newcastle.
I reached the top in under five minutes. At the top you can see the entire eastern side of the city and most of the north side too, right up to the cheviot hills. I sat there in the grass along side a couple of horses grazing and I thought, ‘We’re all caught up in this crazy pandemic but life isn’t so bad.’ I just stayed sat there, looking. Watching the clouds and tiny buses and trains crossing bridges. It was like a giant railway set brought to life. I spectated as the day unfolded and reminisced about the past. I felt extremely present up there on the hill. The time seemed to just flitter away but when I finally got up to walk back down to home it hadn’t felt unproductive like it would have if I’d had the phone in my lap distracting me.
The next day I did it again. Went up there and just sat. I was having some great thoughts on that hill. Great ideas and for whatever reason I kept remembering things from the past. Fun memories that had been buried in the far recesses of my mind.
It became routine. Every day another sunny day and every day up on the hill. I started writing up there. It beat sitting in the garden. There was more privacy in the garden but hardly anybody came up the hill anyway. Maybe one person every half an hour. Good. No people. Peace. Just how I like it. It sounds crazy but I got friendly with a bunch of magpies. Everyday I’d see them and everyday they’d come hopping over a bit closer. They’re almost as smart as crows, perhaps they were waiting for me die.
Anyway, I’d always make sure not to use the phone until after lunch time. You want an accurate indicator of whether you are addicted to your phone? Try not looking at it until lunch time, then you’ll know.
I’d not look at it until after lunch and I’d make sure not to look at it anymore a couple of hours before going to bed. This really narrowed down the phone usage and that was good. It meant being able to sleep when you’re supposed to. Every day that pull to check something on there diminishing.
The morning’s were still the worst. You wake up and the old habits are still there, ‘Maybe just check one message,’ you think. Don’t do it man. Be strong. Stay strong. You’re building up your will power muscle. It’ll serve you in other areas. You’ll be able to resist that cake, those beers, those legs and that face that you know is no good for you. Mental toughness.
I resisted and that subtle sadness you get from being on your phone for hours went away. Goodbye mindnumbing pointless distractions . Hello productivity and presence. It was the perfect balance of being without a phone like I was a year ago and having it there for necessities. Maybe one day |’ll have the strength to go back to using a Nokia 3310.