Sunday, January 7, 2018

My 2018 New Year's Resolution!

I know my Canadian Winter is here when I can see wisps of my breath in the air.

This morning, in search of steaming orange pekoe tea and toast, I was meandering down the tree-lined street I grew up on.  I was headed to my parent's early '70's red-brick, ranch style house, sans baby blue shag carpet, and encountered this wintry scene.  I stepped out of my ice encased SUV onto crunchy snow and ice underfoot and snapped this pic with my phone.

Taking the photo in the cold, cloudless morning air was ironic.  The irony stems from the smartphone.  On the one hand, it captures this moment in a manner no words could ever convey to you, and on the other, my use of the phone has made me less and less aware of simple beauty around me.  It dings at me all day with notifications of texts, emails, Ebay reminders about auctions ending and sports updates.  There is seemingly no respite.

Lately, my phone has caused me to become a person I don't like.  Head down, constantly distracted and basically in a higher level of stress than I would have been had I never owned one.  A subtle hurry-sickness gradually casts a long shadow over much of our soul as we get updates on Trump's latest tweet, Pinterest, Instagram, NFL scores and whatever social media we have stupidly signed up for.  Most of the information is useless and will not make a difference in our lives, but somehow we want more and more.  Maybe our little phones make us feel intelligent and important when actually they cause the opposite.

The snowbound street got me thinking.  I need to put the phone down and focus on what is important.  Simplifying my life.  Staring at a tiny, handheld screen a couple of hours a day is not the answer.  Of course, I can't get rid of it because of work issues, but I can minimize its use big time.  So, today, I decided here in 2018, my New Year's Resolution is to disconnect for small periods of time like a morning, then an afternoon, and maybe a whole day, so that weekends become weekends again.

Today, I experienced technological withdrawal.  I shut the phone off, put it in a drawer in my basement office, and I went upstairs to the living room, grabbed a copy of The New Yorker and started reading.  But, reading was difficult because I felt the irrational need to have that cursed phone nearby.  Maybe there is a text or a call I will miss?  I got through the afternoon somehow.  It didn't help that my significant other sat across from me on her iPad in the sunny living room, but I somehow conjured up the courage to continue.

A view from downtown near my favourite coffee shop!
And you know what?  I felt better.  Eventually, I forgot the phone and just read some brilliant writing on what is going on in Gotham's art and theatre scene.

That's what's great about a pastime.  You lose yourself in it.  You forget about work and the stresses weighing down on us.  When I go golfing or fishing, I escape my worries.  So do you.  My challenge to you friend, is disconnect and get reacquainted with your favourite pastime.  You will feel much better.  Just ignore the irony of me having uploaded this post from my phone!

Happy New Year!

Jason Debly

P.S.  Don't worry, I won't be to preachy in my next post.  It will be back to some whisky reviews!