Almost half of all calls to your cell phone will be scams in 2019, according to a report by First Orion. But this is not the only reason I block everyone’s phone calls…
It was a dark and auspicious night. The first time I had been to one of my “secret spots” while the sun sleeps. I jumped the barbed wire fence and walked in with my flashlight. While few things scare me in Nature, I got spooked enough to turn back. But it was only then when I heard a distant stream which beckoned my curiosity. I went off trail to find verdant soil of moss, lichen and mushrooms giving me a certain camaraderie out here alone. After carefully crossing another old barbed wire fence and rounding a box canyon, the stream became louder. I shined my flashlight across the valley and saw a waterfall I had never seen before and I am sure no one else knew. The super-blood-wolf lunar eclipse left me in complete darkness where I could look to the sky and see the milky way. Once at the waterfall, I danced with rain drops falling down the tiered stones while the water shimmered with starlight and the moon changed her dress. A beautiful and sacred experience only to be cut short from a phone call late at night. Even in my distant refuges I could not escape intrusion. I was angered by the interruption and did not answer … but also had an epiphany.
The sacred focus on this precious reality I live in is often fragmented by distractions from other people. Even when I do not respond to a call, text or notification it breaks my continued focus which is hard to regain. Like making love and then having the door-bell ring.
I believe the currency of life is not money nor time. It is attention. And tech companies seek to monetize our attention by triggering the addictive dopamine response (same mechanism in cocaine and gambling). The average millennial checks their phone 150 times a day according to a study by Qualtrics. This divides our daily waking time into six and a half minute increments. This dissected attention is a piecemeal warzone of the very thing that defines you … awareness.
Most phone calls are not urgent. As a creative professional I need my sustained focus all day and do not tolerate unwanted distraction. This is why I block all phone calls.
People with their stories, media with it’s opinion and applications with ulterior motives seek to replace my physical reality with their own virtual one. Trying to convince me of a facade reality which will never be as complete as my own authentic one. Or in other words, giving my attention to another’s reality is only a partial experience whereas giving my attention to my “here and now” is a complete experience.
If someone wants to talk with me they can leave a message or send a text.
But of course texting is fraught with unwanted attention drains as well. People quickly realize that texting me is not much different than email. It usually takes me hours and sometimes days to respond to a text. Here is how most people deal with texts…
Fred is going about his productive day being focused in the flow, then he gets a text from his friend Jane. Not wanting to be rude, he responds promptly, but then he gets another text a few seconds later. He spends some time thinking of and composing another text to send, to which Jane responds just as quickly as before. And then the cycle of text-and-response, text-and-response burns a whole half hour out of the day just to figure our where they’re going for lunch. If you have multiple people texting you, this can eat the entire day as well as being a regular interruption of real life.
I’ve defaulted in not responding promptly. Sometimes I will only send one text a day … if that. If a person responds in the usual quick way, I wait to respond till I am in a place where I don’t need my focus which is usually at least a few hours later. This prevents me from getting into a cyclic conversation which burns my time and attention. If things need to be figured out quickly, I will call them since phone conversations have less chance of miscommunication and relay information in a fraction of the time it would take to text.
Seek solitude and be rewarded with the richest life.
Here is a fitting quote by Henry David Thoreau:
“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable [shelter], where no indignity can assail, no personality disturb us.”
“Silence alone is worthy to be heard. Silence is of various depth and fertility, like soil. The silence rings; it is musical and thrills me. A night in which the silence was audible. I hear the unspeakable.”