It has been 201 days since I got my iPhone.
When I purchased the smart phone, I wondered how the device would change me, if it would change me. I had held off for years on joining the club of smart phone users. I was content with my old Jurassic cell phone, with its limited abilities. But as the phone deteriorated, my curiosity peaked. If I was going to have to get a new phone, why not invest in an iPhone?
I had a lot of lost time to make up for. Apps to download. Games to play. Music to reconnect with. Out of the gate it consumed me. My eyes constantly on the 4.7-inch screen. My hands bearing the 4.55 ounces.
I stopped reading. It is by no coincidence that according to my Good Reads account the last book I read was submitted June 29th, the same week I got my iPhone. I had spent the previous year on a quest to consume books and then it stopped, abruptly, with the purchase of a phone. I had successfully read 122 books in a year and then, zip zero zilch. For 195 days I did not read a single book, unless you count the Math Expressions Curriculum and a spattering of early education math books. Sure I read. I read newspaper articles and opinions, magazines, blogs, memes, and facebook posts. But a true book? Nope, not a one.
In September, I started work. More on that in another post. But for the record, I love my job! With the start of my new job, my schedule drastically changed. Gone are the days of staying in my jammies all day. Gone are the days of scheduling appointments while the rest of the free would worked.
In the fall my daughter accepted the lead role in the production of Through the Looking Glass. My days soon were a whirlwind of work and then driving Alice to theater. Throw in a orthodontic appointments as both of the kids are now in braces. Top it off with just enough cooking and cleaning to maintain the house. This was my new life. To decompress I turned my eyes to the screen. I cranked my music. I played countless hours of Farm Hero. Sigh.
Now that Through the Looking Glass is over and I have a few months of working under my belt, I finally feel like I have a hang of this new world of mine.
Last week, the annual Good Reads Reading Challenge came across my inbox. I began to think about the last time I read. I began to think about how much time I spend on my phone. I decided to take the challenge and decided on 52 books as my reading goal for 2016. One book a week. It seems a reasonable goal especially if I can manage to turn off the phone for a few hours a week.
My first book of 2016 has been sitting on my end table since my girlfriend gave it to me sometime last summer. It has been silently beckoning me to pick it up. On Monday with my Reading goals firmly established, I did just that. I picked it up. On Tuesday, I was so captivated I could not put it down. The book? Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. An utterly fascinating memoir of her month of madness followed by her remarkable recovery. The first book of the year, read, recorded and reviewed. Boom!
It felt great to be back in the realm of words on paper. So I picked up another book this friend of mine had lent me. This one had slid off the end table and found its way under my bed. I dusted it off, opened it up, and began a journey into the great outdoors. The read? Bill Byson's, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Oh, the humor! The delightful retelling of his adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail. I am only 175 pages in but I can tell you this, it has awakened my soul.
For those of you that know me in real life, you most likely know that I am a lover of nature. I am often happiest when surrounded with dirt. A sighting of a bird flitting about brings me true and immense joy. As I read over the last couple of days, I became acutely aware that recently, my time with the green earth has been non-existent. I have stopped to gaze at the night sky while walking into my house. I have appreciated animals in the field as I drove from point A to point B. But the last time I went on a hike, I could not tell you. Probably 200 days ago give or take a few. Damn iPhone!
Needless to say, the more I read the more I longed to get outdoors. Today I couldn't take it any longer, I HAD TO GET OUTSIDE. I had to go for a hike, a walk; it did not matter where, all I knew was that I had to get out and get out NOW! So I did. At first I hemmed and hawed, the weather was overcast. No, I was going, even if it ended up being only to the end of the road and back. I was walking somewhere.
As I walked, I breathed in the fresh, cold air. I appreciated the mist failing ever so lightly. I listened to the birds tweet and twitter. I pondered. I processed. I moved. I resolved. I reflected. I made my way along the South Lansing Pathway all the way to Summerplace. Also, known as my happy place, as some of my favorite people live there. I visited with friends over tea. I relished the moment of face to face conversation, made even better because I had exerted myself to get there.
On the way home, a ribbon of black birds threaded the sky as they flew from who knows where back to their nightly roost, most likely somewhere by Hawk Island or Crego Park. They cawed and called. At this point I recalled the birds I had seen while out walking: chickadees, a cardinal, a nuthatch, some starlings, and the too numerous to count ribbon of black birds. Yet the only mammals I had seen was a schnauzer and its human. It seemed odd to me that I had not seen anyone or anything else. A little ways up the path I rounded the curve to see a single buck. He shied into the woods as I approached. 20 feet off the path, protected behind a few trees, he watched me intently. I smiled. I took a picture. I was thankful down to the depths of my inner most being. I ended up walking 4 miles round trip and it felt GLORIOUS!
One of the thoughts that I pondered on the most during my hike was my desire to do more hiking. 16 years ago, a girlfriend and I planned out a trip to hike Isle Royale National Park. I purchased my tent, my pack. and pack stove. We did a trial run at Yankee Springs with packs on, where we hiked for the day. I was so excited, I could hardly wait for our trip. Then I found out I was pregnant. Morning sickness came and the trip was cancelled. Since that summer I have secretly, okay maybe not secretly, longed to hike somewhere, anywhere. The year my son was in Boy Scouts I got to go on an weekend outing, hiking the North Country Trail. I loved it! I will NEVER forget when we happened upon a porcupine. It was the highlight of the trip. As I am reading Bill's adventure my mind keeps going back to that moment. His inquisitive stare, his cautious assent up the tree. My mind goes to trips I have not yet taken, woods not yet explored, hikes not yet fulfilled. Isle Royale. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Maybe the Appalachain Trail. More of the North Country. Perhaps somewhere out west.
I know the first step in fulfilling those dreams started today.
Today, I have a new resolve. Put down the phone. Pick up more books. Get outdoors. Plan an amazing summer adventure off the beaten path. Find a hiking partner.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will
flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their
own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will
drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”