Happy & free without a phone

Living without a phone almost consistently since more than 15 years, the thought that there are people who can’t imagine turning off this device for a day, leave alone not owning one feels bizarre. It feels bizarre to be an exception, and bizarre that I am asked to explain how it is possible to live like that. For me not having a phone is the most normal thing in the world. I have no desire to engage with that technology. Yet I keep being asked to share about what it is like to live this way. So I will try my best.

Communication happens by email at the time that suits me best. There is nothing more annoying than a ringing phone in the middle of a conversation, while cooking a meal, during sex, or whatever I may desire to pay full attention to. Splitting my focus – being neither here, nor there – does not resonate. If I communicate with someone, then my attention is with that person, and nothing else. The occasional video call helps with connecting and communicating more deeply. I enjoy seeing the other person.

If banking requires a phone, then that bank is not for me. I have always found ways to make necessary online purchases such as booking a flight, reserving a bus ticket etc. I travel a lot – np problem without a phone. In rare cases I use Skype to make a necessary phone call although this platform does not resonate either. It does the job if I really have to call my bank to circumvent authentication systems which seem to require a phone. The call usually takes less than 5 minutes since I have the direct number to the corresponding department. Easy, and I get to talk to a human being, well most of the time.

The system demands a phone number for booking a flight, booking pretty much anything – so what? I type in a random number if an empty field is not accepted. There is no legal foundation for such requirements. No one can be forced to own a phone. Let’s secure our rights.

Having no phone means knowing my way around. I have to make myself familiar with an unknown place before going there – connecting with it – or have to be alert and pay attention when exploring, ensuring that I find my way back. These skills used to be common-place. What happened? Why was it so easy to hook people on smartphone technology?

If I get lost I pull out a map, often drawn by me, or I communicate with local people, asking for help. Almost always this is an incredibly enriching experience, much more valuable to me than pulling out a phone and figuring out where the heck I am on Googlemaps. Talking to a local person connects me with the place even more and takes 5 minutes, or less.

How to pay for stuff at stores – well, in cash. Why would I want my exchanges and purchases to be surveyed in the first place? That excludes me from a few countries which have decided to enforce cashless societies – so be it. There are very many countries which are not going along with that agenda.

What else do people use phones for, I wonder. Oh, I have a hand-written calendar on a piece of paper, and groceries are chosen completely spontaneously – no lists. I don’t follow recipes – why copy myself, or worse another person? What do the dietary needs of someone else, or of another point in time have to do with what my body is telling me it needs now? I like to purchase food at local markets based on what is freshly available, what resonates when I am there, rather than searching for something that is required for a recipe, or something that I am into out of habit. Preparing food is a creative expression, always new.

When I am sitting on a park bench, or on a bus I sense the environment, ‘see’ the other people, perhaps smile at them, or have a conversation. I may also write down ideas for the next blog post using pencil and paper. This very blog post is the result of my most recent bus trip from Kosovo to Belgrade in Serbia. From there I had to take another bus to Sopot where my Workaway host picked me up at the bus stop. How does that work without a phone? It has never not worked. I had an idea when I would arrive, added one hour in case there are delays so that my new host does not have to wait around, and that is my meeting time. Preparing and materialising smooth journeys does the rest. When I was sitting at the bus stop in Sopot I wrote the poem that goes with this blog post. A Serbian young man with whom I could not communicate gave me chocolate. My new host must have sensed that I had arrived on time and came 30 minutes early, just when I was writing down the last words – the title of the poem. The title almost always comes last. Not a bad start in my new place. Having to be in the right place at the right time means I have to be in my body which is where I want to be anyway. Then that materialisation happens by itself. Actually that day it was not even completely clear if I would be able to cross the border directly from Kosovo to Serbia, being a foreigner and given the ongoing conflict between the two nations. Except I knew exactly that it would work. The entire bus crossed the border within 10 minutes. No problems, no delays. Just in case, I had my hosts phone number written down on a piece of paper. Since everyone else has a phone, I figured that someone will let me use their’s if need be – well despite lots of travel and pickups that has never been necessary.

Tell me, why did I need to write this? Why are fully capable, beautiful human beings giving up their skills to navigate, to remember, to materialise exactly what is needed at a specific point in time? Why do we constantly need to be reachable? Why do we loose the big picture, forgetting what needs to happen today, now, and then have to fix situations by calling on others? I look at my hand-written calendar in the morning – a short pause of introspection, another look, what do I need? What has to be prepared? A minute of insightful revelation, perhaps a few minutes of putting everything together, and then the day flows easily. Anyone can do that.

A poem for you

With greetings from Sopot, Serbia…

Chaos & mystery

Where to go,
What to say?
Up in the air
Is every way.

No more waiting,
No more dating.
Spontaneous movement,
Out of the blue.

Crazy exciting
How new worlds are biting
Deeper and deeper into the Earth.

Nature’s explosion,
Fascination and intrusion.
Faster and faster,
No more illusion.

Mystery and wealth
All around.
Invisible, in stealth,
Yet so loud.

Right in our face,
This world – a maze
The old world a blaze,
The new one – such grace.

Layer upon layer
Falling down and re-emerging.
So many songs, so many prayers,
All is heard, all preserving.

Wings are growing everywhere,
Flying high, if you dare.
Gentle breeze upon the face,
Nothing familiar, yet a smiling gaze.

2 thoughts on “Happy & free without a phone”

  1. Absolutely beautiful. This is the way we all used to live. Thank you for sharing. I love how when we live in spontaneous flow everything is always working out!

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