“The other day I went to the movies and forgot my BlackBerry. This proved disastrous, not because I missed any calls but because during the five or so minutes before the trailers began, I found myself in the terrifying position of having nothing to do. As nearly everyone in the theater soothed themselves with Facebook Mobile or tiny, hand-held rounds of poker, I had no choice but to be alone with my thoughts.”
– Meghan Daum, “The app to end all apps,” Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2010
“Yikes,” I thought when I read the opening paragraph of Meghan Daum’s op-ed piece on the eve of New Year’s Eve. Sadly, how true it was. I am one of only a few people I know who has not succumbed to the allure of the smartphone, yet I immediately identified with Daum’s predicament. Although my hand is not (yet) hugging an iPhone or a Droid during every waking moment, when I am at home, I am never far from my MacBook. Sometimes, this bothers me. Earlier this week, I attended a day-long offsite for work and found myself – sans computer – struggling to focus. Clearly, I was going through computer withdrawals.
Is it really that scary to sit quietly and think? For the sake of all our futures, I certainly hope not. After all, we would not be where we are today were it not for play time, down time, do-nothing time, and time to let our imaginations go wild. Great science, great art, great literature, and great music would not exist without a bit of unstructured time. To be coaxed out of the vast unconscious mind, grand ideas require time spent away from the hurry of everyday life.
Which leads me, quite naturally, back to tea, as so many things do. Is there anything less high tech and more of the moment than tea? The act of preparing tea, inhaling its aroma, letting the steam caress your face, and sipping it slowly is the perfect prelude to the relaxation that entices those ah-ha moments we have all enjoyed. Need a topic for your next post? Make a cup of tea. Can’t figure out how to solve that calculus problem? Make yourself some tea. Wondering how to increase your customer base? That’s right – a pot of tea should do the trick.
So next time you find yourself without your handy mobile device or laptop, don’t panic. Sit back, enjoy some tea, and luxuriate in your thoughts.
Now I’m off for a drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu on this glorious Saturday morning with nothing but the company of my family and the sunshine dancing on the ocean – no electronics, other than in the car and even very few there, given that it is a 1999 Camry. Perhaps by the time I return, I will have the answer to world hunger, or at the very least, what to fix for dinner.