I felt completely disconnected and disoriented. And all it took was leaving my cell phone at home. Yesterday, back from several days of travel and apparently not completely rested, I walked out the door without it. My husband dropped me at work because he needed our only car for the day. Not having my phone would normally be a minor inconvenience. But I had an appointment in town that day. I planned to have the car when I made it. Since I had the option of taking a free public bus, I didn’t think anything of it. But it turned out the bus didn’t start running every ten minutes until the exact time of my appointment so I needed to catch the bus an hour early. No problem. I’ll just call in to a phone meeting I had at that time. Ten minutes before rushing out the door I remembered I had no cell phone. Fortunately, I wasn’t playing a critical role so I sent a quick apologetic email and headed for the bus stop. Once on the bus, I realized how much I use my phone to fill “down time”. Deep breath. Look out the window. Enjoy the ride.
I stepped off the bus in town and began walking toward my appointment. Since I had to leave early, I stopped into a favorite restaurant and grabbed a quick and delicious lunch. Usually, if I eat alone, I get lost in my phone with texts, emails, facebook, pictures, anything really to avoid the feeling of being conspicuous. Instead, I paid attention to the flavor of the food, the people walking by, the amazing weather and music being piped onto the sidewalk cafe. I was mindful of the moment like a peaceful meditation.
After my appointment I walked back outside and looked around. My husband was going to pick me up if he finished in time. With no phone, I couldn’t do the usual check in. No sign of our car or him. So I put in my earbuds, found some upbeat music on my ipod (which I usually don’t carry with me) and started walking for home. Just under two miles and all very walkable, it was like a protected refuge where I could appreciate the full sound of the music in my ears while also noticing the changing urbanscape step by step.The sun shone brightly and warm but I had enough shade along the way to make the walk pleasant.
Normally, I would be stressed by the unexpected unpredictability of the events, of not being able to join the call, not having instant communication with…well anyone for a couple of hours, not knowing if my husband was heading into town as I was walking out and so on. But for some reason, I was able to realize that I couldn’t change the facts and could either stress out or soak in the release from obligations. Two roads diverged…I took the one I usually don’t and that made all the difference (Robert Frost would have been proud).