I bought a smart phone this year and have been getting into the habit of using it to fill empty spaces of time.
Tonight I walked up the stairs from the metro back into cell-phone-service-land and waited for the bus.
The moon was shining down on me. Often I’d take my place in the orderly line (what can I say, I’m Canadian—we line up tidy here) and check my email or Twitter feed. Tonight was different, though. It was that moon, reflecting its pure white light. I was feeling a little enchanted.
I spent the next few moments scanning the sky for stars. I’d pulled the sweater I was wearing out of my winter clothes box earlier that week. As autumn comes the sideways sun doesn’t keep me warm enough and I’ve had to call in reinforcements: wool.
It was one of those evenings that fall under the spell of crackling leaves underfoot. They’d already made me smile in the metro, nestling into the crevices of stairs to keep from being wooshed away in the wind. It was still a bit warm, though, so that a sweater was enough to keep the heat of my body close to me.
I found the Big Dipper. Well, most of the Big Dipper. Light pollution in the city is horrendous. Not being able to look up at the stars is perhaps the greatest tragedy that city-dwellers endure. I’m one of those city-dweller now. I’m living the tragedy.
I saw the North star and the sad remains of Cassiopeia; saw a few other smatterings, hardly recognizable, yet no one could deny their stary nature.
I didn’t check my email or my twitter feed. I extended my neck again toward the moon.
It was nice.
Finally the bus came and I patiently filed on along with everyone else.
I found a place in the back and sat down. Across from me were already four people in a row thumbing through their smart phones. I’m often one of those people, hurling along on the 105. Yet tonight I fought the urge. Instead, I took out my notebook and read the notes I’d written down from the evening. I’d been covering an event and was about to write two stories on it; one for an assignment and another for the school paper.
It was really quite refreshing. Sitting on a bus, thinking about the amazing speaker I’d just been witness to. My mind was free to leap around on tangents and make elaborate plans and goals for the future. I wasn’t chained to this mechanical device.
What is it that we lose when we fill spaces of time with the endless input of useless information?
I know what I lose: moments to breathe, to use all of my senses to take in a snapshot of time, the satisfaction of feeling that I’m doing what I want with my life.
My smart phones takes that away from me when I spend way too much time thumbing around on it.
When I got home I went out onto the balcony for a moment. I wanted more time to look at the stars. It was still too bright, though.
There just aren’t enough stars in the city. And unfortunately, that’s something not even putting down my phone can bring back.