Zach Hively - 07/14/2016

I have recently turned myself on to the concept of mindfulness. The basic idea behind mindfulness is to become fully present and engaged with one’s own body, thoughts, emotions and surroundings in any given moment. I am in love with this calm and connected perspective on life. In fact, everywhere I go, I keep reading all about mindfulness on my smartphone.

I recently got my very first smartphone. Let me tell you, this new approach to engaging with the world around me has changed my life. I’m already talking about my phone like other people talk about their cats. 

It is truly an honor to be on the leading edge of the smartphone crowd. My newest goal is to evangelize the joy of smartphones to all the people who have never yet heard of them – or worse, those stubborn Luddites clinging to outdated notions of a telephone.

“Telephones were invented for text messaging and lighting your way to the bathroom in the dark!” is how people justify their flip phones in the face of progress. The deep dark truth is, I was once one of these people. I did not want to “upgrade” to a smartphone because I believed I would spend my entire life constantly looking for a place to charge it. 

But now I see that I was simply being unmindful of the technological present. I was clinging to the past and not living in the moment, which I now do by posting photographs of my breakfast to the internet. I seriously wish that more people would start sharing all the essential moments of their everyday lives. It would make the internet a much more fascinating place to visit.

In my old troglodyte days, I was always looking off to the future. Where will my life be in 10 or 20 years, I wondered. And also, when can I check baseball scores?

No longer, muchachos! The smartphone enables me to remain engaged in the present. I am fully aware of where I am – say, a peaceful subalpine forest, with the aspen leaves quivering into estival shades of living joy – while at the very same time cursing an umpire’s blindness.

No matter whether I am in that forest, at the grocery store, or trucking down the highway with the cruise control on, this handy little device keeps me connected to the world around me in every conceivable direction. Why, as I write these very words, I am listening to the Wimbledon finals, scheduling an appointment, receiving real-time photographs of my mother’s dog, and striving vehemently to stay connected to a Wi-Fi signal. And I am giving each distraction my full attention! It’s incredible. Technology is like magic, only with autocorrections.

Of course, like any brand new technology, the smartphone has downsides. Those are, generally, that I don’t understand what the phone is telling me. I will be downloading an app for checking weather while looking into what exactly is a Snapchat anyway, and suddenly my phone will beep like R2-D2 at a surprise birthday party. But it won’t tell me why.

Maybe it downloaded updates? Maybe it successfully received the stolen plans to the Death Star? Maybe I pressed the beep-beep button? I, as the telephone operator, have no way of knowing.

But the reasons to curse at my phone are far outnumbered by the reasons I will never ever let it out of my sight again. The No. 1 reason I love my smartphone is, as I mentioned, that I can … something. Was it count my calories? Look up a margarita recipe? Calculate the What3words address of my toilet? 

No! Mindfulness. That’s it. I can read all about mindfulness everywhere I go.

Mindfulness is a lifelong practice. Mindful people take years and years to awaken to their experiences. It can take this long to learn to view your feelings without judgment or criticism. I think waiting is the worst, though. I hate the frustration of waiting. So thank goodness I’ve received an express course in mindfulness. After all, there’s an app for it.

My ultimate mindfulness is why this particular column reads so clearly, so powerfully, and so free of autocorrected miss takes. It may even win me a Pulitzer for its consciousness-expanding commentary, but who am I to plant that idea in the minds of the prize board? To be honest, I’m not even concerned with awards and acclaim. I’m much more concerned with finding a power outlet and a charging cable, pronto.

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