There was a strange scene on my flight to Chicago this morning. After I boarded and sat down in a first-row aisle seat, a woman (I suppose in her mid-50’s) came rushing from the back of the plane to the front galley with a look of sheer panic on her face. I will admit that I thought there was something terribly wrong. Did she receive an emergency phone call? Did someone have a heart attack?
“My cell phone,” she yelled. “I can’t find my cell phone!” She didn’t just make a calm statement to the flight attendants like, “I can’t find my cell phone.” She was screaming!
“Oh,” I thought, “this is going to get really good!”
She rushed back into the gate area for a few minutes, then rushed back onto the plane.
“I can’t find it,” she wailed. “I can’t find it anywhere!” She was beside herself.
The flight attendants tried to comfort and sympathize with her. She started to retrace all of her steps, then ran back up the jetway screaming, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s my lifeline. It’s attached to me. I rely on it for everything!”
I convinced myself that I really needed to continue reading the book I had brought on this trip, but the floor show was just too astonishing to pass up. Finally, about three minutes later, she returned to the plane with a sheepish look on her face that would have put a whole flock to shame. She held up her digital device between her thumb and forefinger.
“Where was it?” asked one of the flight attendants.
She admitted it was in her purse, tucked away in a rarely used pocket. She then proceeded to go into an explanation of how she never uses that pocket in her purse and how she normally puts her phone in another place, and how serious it would be if she had lost it, and how could she ever retrieve all of the valuable apps and the other bits and pieces of stored information? She went on about how she needed to take out insurance on the phone because it had been an expensive model — and on and on. May I remind you, this was all taking place while people were still boarding the plane. She just kept yakking away in the galley to the flight attendants like she had just avoided being hit by a bus.
The pilots even looked on blankly and afraid (I think) of saying out loud what they were tempted to. As the woman began to walk past me, she speed dialed someone and maniacally began laughing as she retold the story of what happened.
Happiness Isn’t A Commodity
Oh, I suppose the easy line here is to say, “Stop and smell the flowers.” The truth is that for most people technology has become more of a burden than an aid. Some people see technology as the devil’s eye, while others see it as the saving angel.
Regardless, many of us are so busy living our lives that we often forget to celebrate life. Let’s face it, most of us live in parts of the country where winter trudges in and sours the landscape for seven or eight months. After months of snow, sleet, hail and freezing rain, we long for flowers, trees and greenery. Maybe we all have a problem with mosquitos and flies, but nothing beats the smell of new-mown grass or the perfume of a rose. To date (who knows?), there is no app to evoke the sensation of life. It is all digital and confining and, in fact, our phones can be colder than winter itself.
No, I don’t recommend we pull our cars off of the freeways, screech to a halt and smell the orange blossoms, nor do I recommend we quit our jobs to spend our days sniffing lilacs. I do recommend a balance.
When I experience people who are living as though their phones are their lifelines, and when they seem to “rely on it for everything,” I get kind of nervous. We are given only a short time on this earth — ridiculously short. Unfortunately, our phones neither love us back nor can they restore for us things like family time, spiritual time or stopping-and-smelling-the-roses time.
I completely understand what it is like to lose a cell phone or to accidentally put your cell phone in the washing machine (that’s a topic for another time!), but I also know what it is like to miss a child growing up, to be too busy to say a good-bye or to not say an “I love you” because of being preoccupied with a meaningless text.
Balance is needed in all things. I have learned through the years that time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. In most cases, we will find things lost in pockets, but time is something that cannot be retrieved.