Dear Phone, You're Not Invited
I can't tear myself away from my phone lately, it seems.
It's embarrassing to admit, because it's not like I'm doing anything important on there. I'm not solving problems or answering questions. I'm not creating or learning or deepening any relationships.
I'm just scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling.
What am I looking for while I scroll, you might ask? I asked myself the same question last night. I had just put Theo to bed, and Ethan had stepped out to go pick up takeout. I looked around the quiet house. I found myself with a few rare moments of solitude.
So what did I do with those precious moments? I picked up my phone. I stood stooped over the kitchen counter, my face illuminated by pictures I didn't really care about, opinions I didn't really want to hear, and news I really wish I hadn't read.
I was in the middle of watching a video of a woman drinking wine in her bathrobe at 7 am when I rubbed my tired eyes and suddenly thought to myself, Deidre, what are you even doing?
Here's what I was doing. I was looking for distraction. I was feeling bored with my situation, tired of being cooped up at home and tired of the same old thoughts in my same old mind. I was hoping that if I just scrolled through my phone - my connection to the outside world - I would escape for a little while, or be inspired for a little while, or at least forget for a little while.
Sometimes I'm afraid what will happen if my mind's not distracted. I have allowed it - encouraged it, even - to be filled with empty chatter for so long that to just cut it off from all of its usual distractions would feel jarring. It would feel boring.
But I know that distracted is not the way I want to live. Being engrossed by my phone is not how I want to spend my time. So I turned it off. I looked up and stood alone in the middle of the kitchen. Sleeping dog, sleeping baby, no husband home. Silence. Wondering to myself, Okay, what now?
I puttered around for a few minutes until Ethan got home. We ate our takeout. We talked on the couch and watched a movie. I forgot about my phone sitting black and silent on the counter. My brain didn't implode after all.
This morning, I turned my phone on again. And while I drank my coffee, I caught myself scrolling again. I also caught a strong whiff of dissatisfaction in my soul while I stared down at my screen. So I set it aside. I picked up my journal, and now I am writing instead. Writing, because it makes me feel passionate and productive and peaceful. I am watching the gray rain fall in long drop and noticing how it sounds as it slides down the rhododendron bush outside my window. I am feeling the steady in and out breathing of Pablo, who is warming my lap with his little body.
And this - this is well with my soul.
I can scroll all day - and sometimes I do - trying to distract my brain and find contentment with the situation, but I'm just never going to find it in other people's pictures and funny videos of talking dogs.
Because contentment comes from thankfulness. Thankfulness, for example, for the way nature keeps moving and changing and living, even when it feels the human world has been put on hold. Thankfulness for the sloppy kiss Theo gives me when he latches onto my face with pure, unbridled love. Thankfulness for a rare twenty minutes to enjoy an afternoon espresso on the couch at home with Ethan.
I can't be thankful for my blessings if I am too distracted to notice them. I have to stop inviting distraction in so that there can be room in my mind for thankfulness. That is the only way I will be able to stop looking for escape from the moment I am in, and instead be at peace with living in it.
Whether the moment is quiet or loud, lonely or filled with companionship, sunny or filled with driving rain, only thankfulness will allow me to appreciate it.