A month at the Phaung Daw Oo School
My world came crashing down the other day, it almost ended, at least it felt like it . My phone stopped charging!!!!!!!!! The battery was at 19% and falling fast. I thought I was about to lose my phone, the technology that allows me to be part of the 21st Century, at one with it. I could suddenly see flashing before me all my perceived difficulties - what the hell was I going to do?. The issue in the end was minor - simply resolved in a few hours. This over reaction got me thinking about my relationship with this technology and being here.
In my first blog I mentioned my arrival, 26 hours of travelling, 7500 miles, 12½ hour time difference, I log into the hotels wi-fi and I’m texting with my family as if they’re next door. 25 years earlier; No cell phones, no internet, no texting, no google, no siri, no facebook, no Instagram, no anything really. We had a guide book (a paperback) and a film camera that used a few batteries, a digital watch with an alarm and flash lite. That was our technology.
Communication’s was by letter, snail mail as it’s lovingly referred to today. We’d send letters home and family, friends could post mail forward to post offices in towns that we planned to visit. Hopefully we would get there before the mail was returned. There were a few long distance, expensive, crackly phone calls. BUT WE WERE OK.
So, what’s happened in the intervening 25 years? Why has something that didn’t exist then become so absolutely indispensable now? Why was I so worried? Was I going to miss out on so much of the 21st century by not having a phone for a few days or even a week? I’m not saying everything I use it for is unnecessary, but do I need it all the time? Was this panic truly necessary?
In Buddhism, they talk about being present in the moment, not looking back to the past or forward to the future. Being here and now, living in this moment wisely and earnestly. I’ve found here my technology has been taking me out of the moment. I was able to distract myself all too easily with it. Instead of enjoying my experience I was voyeuristically trying to be part of someone else’s.
Here I’m realising that a little more balance in my life makes it better. Technology is part of that balance, there’s a place for it, I need for somethings. But I need to decide how I use it, rather than letting it dictate to me how I should use it. As the weeks have passed I’ve been purposely fiddling with it less. I’ve turned off my notifications, all those pings and bings are gone; Email first, then Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Instagram. Initially it was rough, resisting that urge to keep looking, to keep checking but after a while they went. I now try to make a few specific times each day to check in, it does feel better, I’m more in control. The balance is shifting in my favour, I am regaining control.
I’m not where I want to be, not yet, the other day proved that. But I am getting there.