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Learning To Simplify

Learning To Simplify

On a recent trip to the beach with my family I learned a valuable lesson: how to live without my cell phone. Shocking, I know. All of us would cram into this one corner of the beach house with our antennas up, hoping to find some signal that would allow us to reach civilization. But alas, it was no use. We cried and pleaded that it couldn’t be so. Surely it was a cruel joke, that there must be a tower somewhere on this tiny strip of land (that doesn’t even have a grocery store) that could save us from our communication conundrum. Soon it was no use and we gave into the fact that we couldn’t be connected to the things that were left behind in our everyday life, the things we were supposedly vacationing from. One night after a fairly impressive showing of acrobatics, trying to keep the one stray signal I had found, I realized how silly we were all being. It was absurd that a simple gadget made ten grown-ups so frazzled, not to mention the fact that four of us brought our own laptops.

It’s more than just my love affair with my cell phone that bugged me. It was the fact that so many wrong and materialistic things run my life. If you took away my cell phone along with my computer and TV, you might have to commit me to an asylum, which is just pitiful. This summer found me living without a TV, which actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. But when my computer crashed and I was without it for a couple weeks, it drove me over the edge. How can this be? Whatever happened to the days of book reading and frolicking outside in the sunshine? In a world that is more concerned with what kind of video games the kiddies are playing —disregarding the fact that they spend so much time anchored in front of a TV doing nothing more than exercising their thumbs— it is no surprise that we all have a more personal connection with our electronics than with some people. Did it kill me to not hear the ringing of the phone that sometimes made me tense up anyways? No. Did the couple weeks that I was without my computer and TV end up with me in the corner twitching? No. Would the world, as I know it, cease to turn if I didn’t check my Palm Pilot (hypothetically speaking, I don’t actually have one)? It is safe to say no again. What are you answers to those questions? Are your friends and family convinced that your cell phone is actually growing out of your ear? If so, read on. If not, odds are you know someone that is so take notes for them.


Usually the things that tie us to our phones, schedules and computers are not pleasant things. And we won’t even discuss the effects of what we watch has on us (it’s a different subject entirely). Heart attacks are happening to an alarming number of younger people. Yes, it does not help that our diets aren’t up to par, but all of the stresses of daily life take a toll as well. Find an outlet for all that energy— a productive one. Things like Yoga, running, cooking, knitting (and even shopping, one of my personal favorites) can serve as outlets for all of that tension that builds up through the day.


And I mean a real vacation. One thing that truly annoys me about my parents is that when we go on vacation, their jobs come too. Let me point out that I greatly admire their dedication and not to mention the sense of responsibility that they taught me growing up. But I am thoroughly convinced that their places of employment would not cave in if they were unable to be contacted for a week. Granted, give the number out for emergency purposes, but threaten the co-workers with their lives if they use it for anything but. When you go on vacation, act like it. Let deadlines be: either get them done before you leave or arrange for it to be okay for when you get home. This goes for any kind of deadline or commitment whether it is related to the job or school or just agreeing to have lunch with someone. Tie up all loose ends before you leave so that they don’t follow you. Then you can enjoy your time away.


This also applies to school as well as a job, although it is obvious that schoolwork will be done at home. However, don’t let it suck up all your time. Make sure you have time for yourself and the others that are in your life. When I waitressed, I would use up every ounce of kindness that I had in my body, leaving my friends and family (and most often my boyfriend) to bear the brunt of what I couldn’t let out the whole shift. Leave problems with work or school there. Unless whomever you are discussing the issue with can help or is willing to just listen (get their consent to make sure they aren’t just being nice), there is no need to completely unload on them.


Set apart some time to rid your life of these modern day curses for a while. This doesn’t mean you have to take an actual vacation, where you take time off of work. Simply leave the house and not (gasp!) take your cell phone. Don’t check your email for a day. Leave the TV off and see what gets accomplished. I used to love to take my homework over to my sister’s house because they didn’t have a TV. Rip a video game addict from the controller and head outside for some out-of-the-ordinary fun. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with. When is the last time you went ice-skating or roller-skating? How long has it been since you had a picnic? On the other end, when was the last time you watched a movie or spent the whole day accidentally sucked into the Real World marathon on TV? And I won’t even get into the video game marathons that I know go on behind many males’ closed doors.

Our ancestors got along just fine without email, and people in other countries even live without electricity. It was hard for me to swallow that I could be so caught up in the technological wonders that I forgot about the joys to be had without them. Trust me, I’m not telling you to throw them all away or that anything electronic is evil because they aren’t. It is just dangerous when those things dictate your life and you can’t imagine having a day (or a week in my case) without them.


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