Replacing Modern Conveniences with Simple Pleasures
Finding peacefulness in regressing backwards technologically.
When I was growing up, my mother had an address book that always sat on the kitchen table. It had tabs for every letter of the alphabet. I think all of our moms had this same address book.
It was also a time in my life I remember when we had one phone and a pocket door in the kitchen. If you wanted to talk to someone, your only option was to drag that cord around the corner, slide the door closed and sit on the floor.
I don’t know a single person who was a teenager in the 80’s that didn’t have the exact same experience.
I have a friend who calls me on the phone every week or two. The first time he did it, I thought it was a mistake. Clearly, he didn’t mean to actually dial my number. Most people these days use their phones to avoid talking to a human. Ironic.
Turns out, that phone call was totally intentional. And delightful. A couple months later, another friend messaged me to see if I was up for a call. Why on Earth would I not be?
There is something wonderful about having a conversation with someone that doesn't involve a screen or keyboard. It allows for a stronger connection. Better conversation.
If I had the conversations I did with these friends via text message, it would have taken hours and hours of back and forth without even remotely scratching the surface of where the discussion went.
Enjoying the hell out of phone conversations was the tip of an iceberg I didn’t see in the water. I started looking for ways to do things differently. Change my mindset and rewire how I experience life. I made small shifts.
Last weekend, I built myself a new set of bedroom furniture. A console table and two night tables. I had already built the headboard. I certainly could have gone to a random cheap furniture store and saved myself an entire weekend.
The whole room is now uniquely mine. I made two paintings to match the new rug. I built shelves above my bed. There is immense joy in having created this space by hand. No one else’s room looks like mine.
I also stopped using my coffee maker. I was never one to own a fancy coffee maker. My sister has one with a timer that automatically grinds the beans and brews the coffee. This is way too much for my brain to handle.
When I was in Portland earlier in the month, I stayed at an Air BnB where the host made a pot of coffee in a big stainless steel French Press. It was beautifully simple. I was in love with that damn thing.
My morning ritual now includes boiling water for my own French Press instead of pressing a button on my cheap old Mr. Coffee. The first time I did it, I actually laughed. It was one of the best damn cups of coffee I had in a long time.
I don’t know if it was that I was forced to buy really good coffee in order to have coarse grounds, if the process is better or if I just enjoyed making it. I also love that I can take the whole pot back to my pretty bedroom and get back in bed.
There’s a certain quieting of the mind that happens when you do things with a bit more intention and less automation. You know, that whole mindfulness thing.
My friend Niki Marinis write an amazing article about how scrapping her computer in favor of writing with a pen and paper gave her writing new life. Inspiration and creativity abounded. Why would it not? Our brains process something tangible in a very different way.
It inspired me to put my own pen to paper in a different way.
This week, I bought new stationery. I bought a beautiful new address book, just like the one my mom had, to fill with names and addresses of friends. It’s part of my quest for deeper and more meaningful connection with people. Certainly, I could just shoot an email. Send a text. Comment on a Facebook post. I don’t want to do that.
I want someone to have the joy of opening their mailbox and finding a letter in there with their name on it in pretty writing. Well, passable writing. Something they can hold in their hand that isn’t from a company wanting to sell them something.
Last night, before bed, I closed down my computer, made a cup of tea, listened to some music and wrote a letter to a friend I hadn’t connected with in a while. I completely disconnected from the usual technologically centered world I’ve grown accustomed to.
It felt calming and fulfilling. It quieted my brain. The world felt peaceful and less hurried. It was like I could breathe. I can tell you, that was a good night’s sleep.