Monday, 15 August 2016

Monday Moanings - August 15, 2016

Out of Reach

I will never look this good! 

I skipped out of the house this morning, brand new gym bag slung over my shoulder - woman on a mission.  I was heading to the fitness centre for the first time since March and I was so ready to get back at it after too many months of illness. It was time to snatch that really snazzy Lululemon® tote bag, a Mother's Day gift from my 2+2 children, off the back of a chair and get both of us working out.

Five minutes after leaving the house, I realized I'd left my smartphone at home. I knew exactly where it was - on the kitchen table. I almost turned the car around, but then my inner judge, a very close relative of my inner critic, swung her gavel in the air at me, "You don't need it!" With a sharp crack, the gavel smacked me down.

She was right! At most I would be gone from home for 2 hours, and most of that time I would be unavailable anyway (workout or driving). So just what would I need the phone for? Well I'd be out of reach for a whole 120 minutes. What's the big deal? Back in the days of the landline only I'd be away from the home phone for 8+ hours and life went on.

Oh but this is a smartphone! What about all those text messages? Get real - I'm in no danger whatsoever of overworked digits or walking into things while glued to text on a screen.

At the risk of showing my age,  real conversation means real listening and there's a phone for that. Or better yet, get together in person.

Well then, what about all those bleeting news alerts ? OMG - I might not know about some tragedy, some atrocity, the latest political lunacy or maybe even a flash of good news, in real time. So what? I can play catch up in my own time and there's a radio for that.

When did it become so essential to be connected all the time, to not just have smartphones, but to wear them - everywhere, all the time? I know there are situations that demand such vigilance. For years while my mother was in long term care, I carried my cell phone (no smarts about it!) everywhere - yes including the bathroom.

She died six years ago. Now I'm retired. There are no business deals or critical incidents that need my immediate input. There isn't anyone out there who truly needs me to be available 24/7.

What is so wrong with being out of reach for a while? What is wrong with choosing when and where to be available to receive all the news and images, information and advertising, email and spam?


I'm reminded of a story about adult children and their older parent. The mom lived alone in a house without a phone (imagine that!?). The adult children concerned for her safety, convinced her to get a landline. After it was installed the kids called several times but there was no answer. They rushed over to the house, to find mom sitting in her chair knitting. "Mom, why didn't you answer the phone?"

"The phone is there for my convenience and when it is convenient, I'll answer it." she said without so much as looking up from her wool and needles.

My lesson of the day - more of a reminder than a lesson:

My smartphone is there for my convenience, 
and when it's convenient, I'll use it.

In my own time, I'll respond to the beeps, clicks and ring tones. And yes, I will take it with me when heading out for a bit, but I won't panic if I leave it behind. When the mood strikes me, I'll use its amazing power to explore the world. Otherwise, I'll be at the gym, or writing, or day dreaming, or cooking, or just exploring the real world outside my door.

It is good for the soul to be out of reach from time to time.

©2016 April Hoeller


  1. Hi April! I had to comment on your well thought out piece. I am too connected for my own good.It does the mind, soul, and body a favor to just unplug. I long for the days when we didn't know everyone's business 24-7. Spot on commentary!

    1. Thank you Susan! The challenge is that we pretty much all have a 'high need to know'. All this information soothes our lust for control, however much of an illusion control may be. And more news, more often is not better. Truth gets buried. Maybe I should go back to a plain old cell phone - no internet. Cheers!

  2. Right on! Two hours "offline" is absolutely do-able. I take my phone to the barn but from the time I arrive till the time I leave usually about 3 hours it sits on it's own. If there is a "situation" going on in my life I will check it once I get off my horse and get him groomed and put away. But never before I ride. But then I'm an old person and I've lived more years off line than online!