About a week ago, my information stream was brought to a screeching halt. My trusted old Samsung Galaxy 4 decided it had given me its last email, box score and instant message. The screen went dark and alas, it was no more. Before you judge me for not having upgraded sooner, I felt no need. My Galaxy 4 had been reliable and performed every function I asked of it. So, I had no burning desire to keep up with every new version that hit the market. I am now up with the latest technology having received my new Galaxy 7. Yes, I know the 8 is only months away, I am okay with that. In another three and a half years or so, I look forward to the 11 or 12 or whatever 2019 holds in the marketplace. But enough with this tangent.
I mentioned the passing of my old friend because my typical routine was disrupted during the time I was forced to revert to the dark ages of the twentieth century. During my lunch break, I typically go to the café in my building and sit with my phone and do a little personal multi-tasking. I will check my email, read a little news, peruse my Twitter feed and hold a text conversation with my wife. We are not exactly on the same schedule. I leave for the office around 6:30 where she works from home starting at eight or so. Needless to say, she is not up with me in the morning. I wouldn’t be either if the tables were turned. This time allows us catch up and say hello. I will remind her to print out the form she needs and she will remind me to pick up my prescription on the way home. It is a peaceful little getaway in the middle of an otherwise hectic day.
On the day after the catastrophic event, our new phones on order, I was getting ready to head to lunch and realized, I have nothing to do. Without a second thought, I grabbed a notebook and walked down to the café. I sat down, opened the notebook and put pen to paper. Yes, kids, this is how we made notes, conveyed information, and even told stories before the ever-present devices. As I began to write, I started off with an old exercise of just making a journal entry. I jotted down my thoughts on what had been going on that morning. I quickly moved into ideas for new posts, including this one. I wrote out opening paragraphs and followed with a few key points that I could use to expound on my premises.
Before I knew it, my hour was about done and it was time to head back up to the sixth floor and jump back into my other routine. The one that pays the bills. As I was walking back to the elevator, several thoughts hit me. I missed my daily conversation with my wife. After nearly seventeen years, I still enjoy every conversation be it in person or via text. I did not really miss my email, news or Twitter feed. I did however, fill nearly five pages and I felt satisfied. I noted that nothing I wrote would ever have me compared to Hemingway much less see the light of day. The flexing of the manual muscles made for an enjoyable hour though.
That evening, as I was ready to go to bed, I again realized another routine was broken. I usually end my night with a quick recap of the evenings scores, one last check of my email and maybe a few minutes playing a game then it is off to sleep. What would I do this evening? Here is an idea, how about reading a book?
I used to be a voracious reader. At any one time, I would have about three books in progress at once. I would usually have a novel. My book of choice would be something new from Dan Brown or John Grisham or it could be from one of my favorites, James Michener or Tom Clancy. My second book would be historical in nature. Usually a biography or a history of a country or people. Third, being the hopeless fanatic that I am, I would have a book on sports. I am happy with either fact or fiction here. However, I seem to have gotten away from reading the way I used to. The pitfall of endless information and I fell into the trap.
At that moment, I looked over to my nightstand to rediscover what was sitting there. I had a book that I had been meaning to start reading for some time. A history of the Vikings (the real ones, not the show) if you are interested. I cracked the cover and went to town. About two chapters in, I felt my eyes getting heavy. I place my bookmark in the page and drifted off to sleep. When I woke the next morning, I spent my time over morning coffee thinking about what I had read, rather than getting my first look at my email and the overnight news cycle. How wonderful was this? I was beginning my day happily thinking about the origins of a people and their culture and the misconceptions surrounding their reputation.
I repeated my daily writing and reading for one more day before my new phone arrived. While I sat on my couch, loading all of the apps I was sure I needed, I made a decision. Yes, I would still keep most of what I used to have. But, I want to finish my book. I want to read another. I realize that every book I read can be had in digital form. I embrace that. I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am trying to say. I do not want to go back to a time without our devices. For the most part, they make our world a better place. I am all for it and I love being connected. What I realized I missed was the time I spent with the words. I made certain I have a reader app installed.
In the week or so that has passed since I received my new friend, I have inevitably fallen into some of the same habits. I still rely on my phone in the morning and at lunch. I still keep up with ball games while we watch something else. I have however, kept up my time reading in the evening. I may only get through a few pages, but I am reading again. Will I get back to keeping three books going at the same time? Who knows? For now, I will focus on one. Thanks to the brief blackout I revisited an old friend and I am better for it.
I am already planning my next few reads. I know what is next. I have a Christmas gift that has sat idly for far too long. After that, maybe a re-read of “The Source” or “Poland” from Michener. I have not read the latest Stephen King thriller and I still have a Dan Brown on the shelf I have not read. Doris Kearns Goodwin always has a great history ready for me or I could reach back to one of my early favorites, H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”. Maybe I will look forward and download something brand new. But now, what is important is, I have found my way back.
I would love to hear your thoughts. I would also like to hear any recommendations you have for my next book. I am always looking for something new.