I obsessively check email (two accounts), Facebook (1 personal account, 3 pages), blog stats, news feeds, etc. I even play my Scrabble app too late into the night. Leaving the phone alone while driving is a struggle. Sometimes, (and this is so embarrassing), my hand aches from holding the phone too much.
It's not something I am proud of, and I am trying hard to break some bad habits when it comes to my destructive relationship with this powerful and useful--and necessary--technology.
But here's how I really knew I had a problem:
Bold nowhere else in his life, Henry was bold in this: no matter what the coach said, or what his eyebrows expressed, he would jog out to shortstop, pop his fist into Zero's pocket, and wait. If the coach shouted at him to go to second base, or right field, or home to his mommy, he would keep standing there, blinking and dumb, popping his fist. Finally someone would hit him a grounder, and he would show what he could do.
What he could do was field. He'd spent his life studying the way the ball came off the bat, the angles and the spin, so that he knew in advance whether he should break right or left, whether the ball that came at him would bound up high or skid low to the dirt. He caught the ball cleanly, always, and made, always, a perfect throw.
Sometimes the coach would insist on putting him at second base anyway, or would leave him on the bench; he was that scrawny and pathetic-looking. But after some number of practices and games--two or twelve or twenty, depending on the stubbornness of the coach--he would wind up where he belonged, at shortstop, and his black mood would lift.
The above passage is from the book I just started reading, called The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. And when I read it, I knew just how bad my technology addiction had become, because I wept from the sheer joy and relief triggered in me by reading beautiful written words.
I have fallen out of the habit of reading. I recently and finally finished reading Cutting for Stone, a wonderful book I would highly recommend to anyone, but a book that, sadly, took me so long to read--because of my wonky priorities--that my enjoyment of it was diminished by the guilt I felt over leaving it alone for too many weeks and repeatedly having to go back and reread passages that had grown dim in my mind.
A hazy thought occurred to me that I didn't want that to happen anymore, so while visiting my parents last week, I asked my mom for a book recommendation. She gave me The Art of Fielding. So really, she's the one who made me cry: thanks Mom.
Does it sound crazy that simple words brought me to tears? Words about some kid playing shortstop? Words that aren't describing anything remotely tragic, or sad, or even sentimental?
It sure felt crazy to me. But those words were like water to a person who didn't realize how thirsty she was, didn't realize what she had been missing. Nothing made me realize more clearly how much time I am wasting with my phone, how much I am robbing myself of, than reading a good book.
Happily, the cure is simple: Read beautiful words. I will take that medicine with relish.
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