Phone-Less in Nashville

For the first time in a long time (or possibly ever), I left my phone at work. At least I’m 98% sure that’s where I left it.

You never know how much of a hold something has over your life until you’re without it. Even in week two of my social media fast for Lent, it feels weird not to have my phone. I almost feel naked. Almost.

Maybe I need to institute a periodic phone fast where I go without my phone for 24 hours. I wonder if I could last that long– that’s just me keeping it real.

How many people can go 15 minutes without their phones, much less 24 hours? I get nervous twitches just thinking about it. I’m more than a little concerned about how addicted we are to smart technology and gadgets. If someone ever detonates one of those electronic pulse bombs that wipes out all electronic devices, we’re screwed. I almost think civilization would collapse.

The truth of the matter that I sometimes forget is that I spent the vast majority of my life without smart phones. I spent a good deal of my life without any phones at all.

I think I can survive without a phone until tomorrow morning.

PS I found my phone exactly where I left it. . . at work. I managed to not fall apart or spontaneously combust for 12 whole hours without my phone. Maybe there’s hope for us after all.

 

14,000 and Counting

I set a new personal Fitbit record. I took over 14,000 steps today. That’s over 6 miles.

I also set the timer on my phone and spent 10 minutes in silence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Guess which was harder. Guess which felt longer.

If you picked the 10 minutes, you win the satisfaction of knowing you were right.

Why is it so hard to be still and silent for any length of time? Why is it that we feel compelled to check our smart phones or our watches or anything to distract us from stillness and silence.

Is it that those wonderful smart phones have further eroded our attention span to the point that we must have ceaseless stimulation throughout the day?

We’re losing the ability to interact with real people in real time in real conversations because we spend so much time virtually interacting with others through social media.

I’m not saying social media is evil. I’m not saying all of us need to immediately go on hiatus from all forms of social media starting today.

I am saying that we need to look up and look around us periodically. See the sunset. Go to a Starbucks and watch other people (but not in a creepy way). Have face-to-face conversations, make phone calls to your friends, write letters by hand, and live your life.

Since it’s Advent, maybe pay attention to all those decorations that are popping up all around you. That funny cat video can wait.

For those of you with kids, put your phones down. Your children will only be small for such a short time. It’s likely that the technology that made your smart phone possible will still be around long after your kids have grown up and left home and it’s no longer possible to create magical moments with them. So do that now.

Find five or ten minutes in your day to simply sit in God’s presence and be still and silent.

Trust me. It’s good for your soul.

 

The Five Longest Minutes

I tried an experiment on my second visit of the evening to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, and I spent five minutes in silence, not reading anything, not saying anything, not looking my phone. It was just me sitting in a pew in semi-darkness for five minutes.

Five long minutes.

It’s amazing how society has conditioned us to need almost constant stimuli from the radio, television, tablets, internet, and smart phones. Our attention span is so much shorter than it was even twenty years ago.

It’s good for the soul to be silent.

I think of it like rebooting a computer every so often. It helps it to run more smoothly and to reset the equilibrium when things get a bit off-kilter.

We need rebooting periodically. That’s what silence and meditation are for.  That’s what prayer and fasting are for. That’s why God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, although historically His people haven’t been very good at using that day for the purpose of which it was intended.

I’m not very good at any kind of silence. That five minutes seemed a lot longer to me than five minutes. It definitely seemed a lot longer than five minutes spent on Pinterest or Instagram. I’ve been known to waste way more than five minutes scrolling through the posts on Facebook at the end of the day.

Silence takes discipline, something that the culture around us seems to treat with disdain. You don’t see or hear many advertisements extolling the virtues of discipline and self-denial. Usually, it’s quite the opposite.

So there I was in that quiet space for five whole minutes, not saying anything, not reading anything, praying as I felt led. It was refreshing and soul-cleansing. I felt more relaxed and less anxious. I felt at peace with myself and with God.

I should probably do that more often.

 

Words of Wisdom

hemingway

As you can see, I posted this way back in 2013.

I can’t say that I’ve always lived to the fullest, but I can say those were by and large the best moments that I can remember.

This is the only present you will ever have. There will never again be a moment exactly like the one you’re in now.

Even in those bad moments, there is always something good to be found, something to be thankful for, and something to learn from.

It’s hard to keep from looking back into the past or looking ahead into possible futures, but the best life is lived when you’re fully present in the moment, taking in all of your surroundings, i.e. not with your head buried in a smart phone, tablet, or some other kind of electronic gizmo.

You may miss out on what’s trending on social media or the big announcement your friend just posted about, but the gain is so much more than what you lose. You get to see sunshine, breathe in fresh air, and see the glory of God cascading down all around you. You get to live.

My recommendation (weather permitting) is to have a meal at a restaurant that has outside seating. If you can, go the whole meal without using any smart media. Maybe even journal about who and what you see. Take it all in and try not to miss a thing. And yes, order the dessert.

 

Ahh, Back in Ye Olden Days of 1994

friends 1994

Earlier, I ended up at Starbucks where I was waiting on a friend of mine. I decided to utilize their exceptional wi-fi (exceptional in this case meaning “way better than my home wi-fi”). I watched a couple episodes of the TV show Friends. Season 1 to be more specific.

It always cracks me up to see how quickly technology becomes dated. The old brick phones that they used to carry around seem as antiquated as the old tube televisions, but then I have to realize that they were the newest tech 20 years ago.

I also think that 20 years ago, people still predominately had face-to-face conversations. Sure, people talked on their cell phones, but at $5 a minute (or whatever the rate was back then), it was much cheaper to talk to a live person.

Now, we live in a world where we intentionally isolate ourselves through our technology. We can go through a whole day, even a whole week, without having to actually interact with another living soul. We can be connected 24/7 and at the same time be cut off from human contact.

I’m not suggesting we revert back to 1994 phones. What I am saying is maybe you and I put down those smart phones and actually participate in this beautiful, one-and-only life we’re given. Maybe leave the phone at home and take a walk or visit a neighbor or sit on the patio of a small cafe on a lovely spring day.

As much as I do love my iPhone, I admit it can be addictive. It can be a time-suck. I seriously doubt that I will get to the end of my life and wish that I could have spent more time checking on and updating my Facebook. And there are no real-life bonus points awarded for mastering Candy Crush. Sorry to disappoint you on that one.

Jesus said that if you want to do right then do two things. 1) Love God and 2) love people. There’s wisdom in the old saying that you love people and use technology or you love technology and use people. And technology doesn’t excuse ignoring people or being rude, but that’s a topic for another blog on another day.

fakeeinsteinquote

 

Even though Albert Einstein probably didn’t actually say this, it’s still true.

 

Things I Love 50: The Last Farewell

island hammock

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift” (Albert Einstein).

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself” (Tecumseh).

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness” (John Keats).

“Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

This is the last one. But as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, the the end of history was not the end; history itself is but the title page and preface, and after that begins the real story which goes on for ever and where each chapter is better than the previous one. That’s how it is with joy. There really is no end to joy and its gifts for those with thankful hearts and wide-open eyes.

1,551) The good tired feeling after mowing the lawn.

1,552) Hugs from my grandmother.

1,553) Great music from Coldplay and Radiohead.

1,554) Freshly clipped toe nails.

1,555) How perfectly cold water quenches my thirst.

1,556) The Living Water than never runs dry and never leaves me thirsty ever.

1,557) People who “get” me.

1,558) The freedom that comes with forgiveness.

1,559) Finding out that being broke doesn’t mean the end of life as I know it.

1,560) My friend Wendy who is just a facebook message away at all times.

1,561) That post-shower feeling.

1,562) “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us” (Psalm 46:1,MSG).

1,563) Jesus’ promise of rest to those who are weary and exhausted.

1,564) God making me and loving me just the way I am.

1,565) Catfish and hush puppies, all fried.

1,566) Relaxing in a jacuzzi.

1,567) Liking me for me and being good with being a nice guy.

1,568) Knowing when to hold ’em, knowing when to fold ’em (like Kenny Rogers sang).

1,569) My very sleepy yet very comforting feline therapist yet again at her job.

1,570) iCloud automatically transferring pictures from my iPhone to my iPad and my iLaptop (just kidding, it’s a Sony Vaio).

1.571) How much better typing out one of these lists makes me feel.

1,572) My dad’s goofy but totally lovable dog, Molly.

1,573) My goofy and random sense of humor.

1,574) My impressive t-shirt collection.

1,575) People who wait until they are married before living together (which is so rare these days).

1,576) Planning up a Delilah playlist of cheesy love songs on my iPhone.

1,577) The safe recovery of that 16-year old girl Hannah who had been kidnapped.

1,578) All news stories that have happy endings.

1,579) Friendly neighbors.

1,580) Credence Clearwater Revival.

1,581) The photo frame option on my iPad that turns it into . . .wait for it. . . one of those electronic photo frames.

1,582) Stepping out of a muggy summer day into air conditioning.

1,583) People who not only speak their faith but live it out.

1,584)  The car KITT from the old TV show Knight Rider.

1,585) Seeing pictures of healthy newborns from friends and family on Facebook.

1,586) Taking a spoonful of local honey that’s supposedly good for my allergies but so good to me.

1,587) That girl’s smile in the picture that I used for one of my blogs. I’ll probably never see her again but I won’t ever forget that smile.

1,588) John Mayer’s lyrics.

1,589) Checking out the newest smart-phones in the stores (even though I’m perfectly content with my iPhone 5).

1,590) Looking forward to my next coffee and conversation outing.

1,591) Knowing all my family and friends are safe and sound for the night.

1,592) Real and authentic conversations about life and faith.

1,593) Having all my needs supplied out of God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

1,594) Perfect love casting out fear.

1,595) That Jesus isn’t safe, but He’s good.

1,596) One day going overseas on a mission trip.

1,597) Having no regrets about following Jesus.

1,598) “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

1,599) Having many local coffee spots to check out in the next few months.

1,600) Every second I’ve spend writing these lists over the last couple of months.

I hope these lists have inspired you to start list of your own where you name those things you’re thankful for that you love. Not necessarily the monumental or earth-shaking things, but even the tiniest of things that make you smile or make your day a little brighter. It has been so much fun writing these and I thank you for reading them. God bless.

Revolution, Anyone?

revolution

I wonder what would happen if I ever ended up in a scenario like the TV show Revolution (on Mondays at 9/8 CST on NBC– shameless plug). The premise of the show is that all the power in the world has gone out and no one knows why and no one knows how to fix it. Everybody reverts to the pre-electricity days where you traveled by foot or by horse and took a long time to get anywhere. And everybody fights with swords and crossbows and throwing rocks and such.

If my internet doesn’t work right, I don’t know what to do with myself. Mostly, I stare at the wireless router, as if somehow willing it to work with the powers of my mind. Apparently, my extra-sensory powers were off today, because that didn’t work at all.

Sometimes, I think it would be nice to be without all the gadgets and devices. You know, those things that were supposed to be time-saving, but ended up being time-sucking instead. Most people seem to have their smart phones surgically attached and can’t go 15 second without pulling it out to check email of facebook (or to see if a certain ragamuffin has posted yet another awesome blog– another shameless plug).

I think life would be simpler. We’d actually have to communicate the old fashioned way– with words. Spoken words. Written words. The kind that people used for several thousands of years.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some technology. That doesn’t mean I’m techno-savvy by any means. If my fail-safe fix-all solution, i.e. unplug, wait 30 seconds, and plug back in, doesn’t work, I’m out of ideas.

But if technology goes away tomorrow, I’d be okay. I’ve got enough books I haven’t read yet to keep me going until I’m at least 290. I really think I could learn to get used to walking to places instead of always getting in the car. I’d be a lot healthier.

All this comes from me on my laptop on my wireless connection. The irony is not lost on me.