I’m not here to share about the last 10 years, but what happened in the last 10 days.
My holiday miracle.
This miracle made time stretch out like taffy, my Christmas socks sticking to the present moment without slipping in the usual ways.
Our home was bursting with guests and food and wine and music. Busy. And yet, with this miracle came a different kind of silence, stillness. Space between the moments.
My mind settled, less grasping, less reaching, less distracting.
Fullness came rushing in. Connections right in front of me became my whole world.
I got to put down even more than I expected.
My inconvenient holiday miracle?
I lost my phone.
I’ll be honest, a bit of shame bubbles in my throat at how different life is and feels without my phone. This feeling of being tethered to a world beyond the here and now, all the inputs that ignite a sense that something is needed from me. My attention, my energy, my responsiveness. I feel embarrassed that I’m not free of this.
It was inconvenient. I couldn’t check the weather or co-ordinate a visit. I couldn’t look up that sugar-free cake recipe for my kid’s birthday or call my mother. I had to rely on other people for little things I would typically flip open that yellow case and start swiping for.
It meant that over the holidays, my husband became the social co-ordinator. He hated it. It was amazing.
In our little debrief of the experience I was like ‘now you know what it’s like for me’ and he was all ‘but you’re good at that, that’s your zone.’ True. But just because we’re good at something doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a lot.
The inconvenience of not having my phone reminded me of what it feels like to be a client in a coaching program. It wasn’t so disruptive that it made things difficult, but I was suddenly asked to be in life in a way that had me acutely aware of patterns that hadn’t been so conscious.
This is the thing with the inconvenience of practice, it wakes us up, expands and deepens us.
I could have focused on solving the phone problem, trying harder to find it, replacing it, switching over to one of the many phones I was offered. But this was a holiday miracle and instead I embraced it and got curious about what I’d learn about myself.
Some of the highlights:
Disruptions, distractions and thwarting of presence.
The use of my device, and the online world generally, has a quality of ‘popping up and out’ in terms of my attention and energy. It’s very visceral to observe. It prevents me from settling. It inhibits deeper work. It disconnects me from layers of my being, my interior, my body and the Earth.
It feels like a magnet pulling at me and thus part of my psyche is over there, not here. When it comes to relationships, there’s a part of me tending to all the other ones while there’s someone right in front of me. This made me realize that part of what I love so much about one-on-one coaching is that when I’m in that space, there’s no one else and nothing else and that depth of connection is so nourishing.
That depth of connection is actually available anywhere, all the time, perpetually fucked with by the devices floating between us or the sense that something or someone is waiting. Which leads me to…
Expectations, relationships and being available.
I did notice a growing anxiety as the days went on with no phone. It was all about who may have reached out, texted or called and not heard back from me. How would they feel? What would they make up? Would it create a rupture in the relationship?
This was the extent of the anxiety I felt not having my phone. Fear of leaving others wondering. Fear of disconnection, of letting people down. It was fascinating to observe that it wasn’t about fear of missing out or that I needed the various conveniences my phone offered. I didn’t even really care about the lack of pictures, everyone has a better camera than me anyway. For me it was all about feeling like I should be available and that if I’m not available, I’ll hurt people.
I think I’ll be chewing on that one for the next decade.
Convenience kills consciousness.
We have so many conveniences now. Many of them lul us to sleep. I had to be far more thoughtful, intentional, focused, connected without conveniences at my fingertips. I noticed when I was pulled to check out or distract. I noticed when a thought or suggestion would typically send me to ‘just look it up’.
I was acutely aware of my energy, moods, feelings. I was in greater contact with my needs because I had to take a beat before meeting them in fast and convenient ways. This brought great attention to how many conveniences don’t meet my needs at all. It had me reflecting on how many of the things that build a meaningful life are the small but inconvenient moves. Putting on your shoes and getting outside when Netflix is right there, initiating the tough conversation when scrolling on Facebook could stand in for the missing connection, doing the thing that feels scary or difficult when there are so many emails that could be replied to.
Meaning, growth, change, none of that is possible without inconvenience.
Small inconveniences taken toward that which we hope is possible are what adds up to significant change. It’s rarely the big leaps or sweeping gestures, windfalls or breakthroughs.
Over the past couple of years, I have done a lot of work to unravel the pressure and expectations I’ve felt, to meet life and work with less effort, with more space and grace. To eradicate the enculturated impulses toward self-violence as leverage for performance.
I’m looking ahead now at the fine line between pushing ourselves in unnecessary ways, where greater compassion and ease is needed versus the grit of that which is inconvenient and effortful, but is on behalf of what’s meaningful, good, beautiful and true. May we find ways to dance on this line with joy.
Happy New Year, dear ones. Thank you for being here, for reading, for sharing your precious attention with me. It’s worth a lot and I’m grateful.
PS- I found my phone. It was under the seat in my dad’s car. I think I’ll leave it at home and head to the polar bear swim.
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