Let’s face it, the coronavirus stopped everything in its tracks. Closing businesses, schools, communities and entire countries shattered the world into millions of individualized personal universes. But, viewing this tragic pandemic through the paradoxical Tao, I see our rapidly moving globe suddenly falling apart to slow us down and turn our attention to what truly matters.
In Sickness and in Health
While I, too, grow weary of monotonous and lengthy confinement, I also see this time of sans distraction as optimal for looking within. The choice is simple. Do I feel better when my thoughts reside in devastation, or as the Chinese do in seeing opportunity in chaos? Shifting the focus from worse to better, this virus offers a prodigious gift. Besides the benefits of families making dinner together again, reading more books, and savoring nature, I’m talking about something extraordinary — a universal gift for humanity’s overall well-being and that of our planet.
According to Holy Ordinance
Reading this Abraham-Hicks sentiment some time ago, it was hard for me to believe. Quite honestly, I didn’t feel that powerful. But, since this message keeps popping up in my life and I can see the monumental effects from humanity’s darkness, I’m revisiting this concept, and largely out of hope.
“Each and every single person makes a difference,” Covid-19 tells us. So, why not use this time wisely to envision the post-virus world we wish to see?
To Love and to Cherish
The pandemic is a call to stop talking about the problems and to act, become directors of life post-pandemic. There’s a productive exercise in creatively envisioning the best that Dr. Elaine Aron calls an exercise in Big Reality. Big Reality is a pathway to global change and participating is easy:
Alter your focus right now.
Turn off the media’s fear mantra.
Clear the virus from your mind and any troubles tainting your day.
Take a few deep breaths.
Make a list. Not the usual “to do” or “gratitude” list but one of a different type.Make a list of all the things that may end up better because of the coronavirus.
Neale Donald Walsch further explains. Think of life as a “huge, blank sheet of paper.” Let your thoughts, words and prayers be the instruments you use to color that sheet of paper. Is it dark or filled with light?
Think big. Universal, if you will. Create more than one blank page and make a new page at any time. Use your imagination to join a universal mind that can create a positive outcome from this pandemic. You may be skeptically asking, “Sure, sure, how is this going to make a difference?” But, is there any good reason not to try? We can’t say we don’t have the time…
As John Lennon sang in 1971, “Imagine.” Imagine the coronavirus eradicated. Imagine vibrant health for you, your loved ones, and community. Use your imagination to create your best self. The best planet. Best community and life. Imagination is the power of the mind to form images – positive, loving, indifferent, negative, funny, sad, or happy. How do you feel? What do you choose? What will you contribute to your spirit and to the health of our planet?
Here’s some of my Big Reality:
Clear skies, vibrant waters and pristine lands
Governments worldwide immediately sharing vital health information
Spamming, computer hacking, and junk mail evaporating
Healthier people devoid of Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, anxiety and depression
Hot water in all public restrooms
Caring outdoing selfishness; simplicity and generosity replacing greed and hoarding; personal pride of “can do” instead of a helpless “I can’t” attitude; kindness and acceptance (tolerance at the very least) replacing hate. Oh, and common sense will be King!
It’s a tall order but why not? Why not think big?
From this Day Forward
The coronavirus gives us downtime. If I focus on the positive, the extra time is a gift. Will we recognize it and act on it, or quickly kick it aside as we have with Mother Earth? Will we engage with each other and nature? Will a unified positive focus create a better world? Why not try? Isn’t it worth it?
I understand the coronavirus may end life as we’ve known it, but I must believe it is the transformation to something much better. What do you want to see as our world transforms?
To Have and to Hold
When I hear talk about oneness, I prefer to think of it as a collective energy for the betterment of humanity and the world, not as a melting pot erasing geographical boundaries, individuality and ethnicity. What color will you bring to this universal canvas?
“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another.” ∼ Ram Dass
During the aberrant quietness of shelter in place, I’ve reflected more deeply on this statement and how our thoughts and actions produced the position we are currently in, and will also create the outcome. My hope is that increasing sparks of light will escort our minds and hearts through the darkness to an enlightened world.
What have we done? Where are we going? And as Lao Tzu says, “If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading.”
Strongly independent with a passion for personal freedom, choice, natural healing, and the environment, I am troubled by government’s increased control of our lives. Coronavirus mandates for ourprotection churn memories of how quickly and quietly 9/11 created the Patriot Act and TSA.
Smothering personal freedoms in any capacity is disquieting and largely why I avoid privacy invading sites like Facebook and Google. Being tracked — whether its purchases, conversations, photos, driving habits or associations incites my neo-Ludditism. Just because devices are marketed as convenience items doesn’t mean they are solely for our convenience.
GAFAM (Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon-Microsoft) are essentially transforming humans into algorithmic clones by snuffing out personal connection while stoking social media propaganda and fake news. Devices were extinguishing human connection but now we are mandated to not touch. Device addiction deters exercise and absorbing Vitamin D through sunlight which impairs cognitive performance. Blue light disruption of circadian rhythms deprives users of sleep. Sleep deprivation is effective mind control…
But wait, if this resembles a hellfire reality of controlling the masses, consider Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s illuminating sentiment, “Freedom of thought promotes truth, health and choice.” Remember the day when we could think for ourselves?
There’s a reason they say, “Follow the money to the truth” and “The truth will set you free.”
A long time advocate of naturopathic and holistic medicine, I also support functional medicine, and the health aspects of nutritional foods and a clean environment.
Unfortunately, America turned the light out on natural health care once money entered the equation in the early 1900s. My personal eye-opener was the FDA removing a safe, natural remedy that cost around $8 only to replace it with a more costly Big Pharma drug. And when I say costly, I mean in both dollars and side effects.
I’ve subsequently witnessed western medicine’s attempts to discredit and silence natural healers and healing through the guise of authoritative agencies like the FDA, CDC, NIH and academia’s play for pay studies.
Being a gardener, I dig beneath the dirt to expose the root of bias — is it for humanity’s sake or profit driven? As in the coronavirus stimulus, Big Business and special interest groups benefit most — not the desperate jobless or taxpayers incarcerated with more debt. Have you considered how much money Big Pharma will make through mandatory vaccines?
Don’t worry, I’m not proposing a conspiracy theory here. I’m proposing this virus can galvanize us to think for ourselves, to go deeper than what we are told and fan the fire of optimal health for we the people and planet.
“All of us come into this world with different perspectives, and the only way we can approach the truth in any situation is to meld perspectives into a more comprehensive view…You are my travel companion, just as I am yours.” ∼ Derek Lin
If we no longer have common sense, can we still be reason able?
While safety protocols seemed sensible at first, I am deeply concerned that governments will use this opportunity to douse more of our personal freedoms. Still, I do not support protesting shelter in place measures — and certainly not healthcare workers — for what must be done right now.
But, incendiary group think and promoting mandated vaccinations is alarming. Denmark’s new law allows authorities to force testing, vaccination, and quarantine. On the surface, this may sound necessary when everyone hasn’t complied with common sense measures. But, it also means losing control over what is done to our bodies, including being micro-chipped and tracked. (Possibly not a worry for techies but deeply troubling to this privacy loving, natural health practicing neo-Luddite.)
These sci-fi like scenarios during the coronavirus are infiltrating reality with a police state. Extreme measures like China locking people in their homes, governments using drones to enforce staying in place, groups not allowed to assemble, and neighbors encouraged to become “minders” spotlight other dark moments in history. And ones I do not want to rekindle.
A healthier paradigm does exist.
My intent of this post, by the way, is not to fuel more fear but to encourage and energize empowerment. Other less dehumanizing approaches for coronavirus protection do exist. Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai (aka Dr. Shiva) who holds four degrees from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) including a PhD in biological engineering, has emphasized there is no need for country-wide shutdowns. His more reasonable proposal has been to not quarantine all citizens but categorize them into four groups which would also keep economies more stable:
Those who test positive for COVID-19
Those who are hospitalized and in critical condition
Those who are immuno-compromised
Those not in the three above groups
Pioneers have the most arrows in their backs.
Dr. Shiva’s suggestions are ways to grow out of the pandemic rather than be engulfed by it. Sure, there are those who want to discredit him. Natural healers are often labeled as quacks by western medicine. (Although the benefits of acupuncture and yoga have existed for centuries, western medicine refused to acknowledge their efficacy until 40 years ago.) So, when someone or something is being discredited, I dig again to discern the motivation — is it for humanity’s well-being or for power and control?
Note: there are other longer videos establishing Dr. Shiva’s credibility versus the corruptive practices of Big Pharma, NIH, CDC, and academia. Of course, you will find videos and posts to discredit him as well.
Examine what you are being told. Is it rooted in fear mongering and control…or encouraging empowerment over your own health?
My personal experience aligns with Dr. Shiva’s position that the pandemic is not only about the virus, and we do have a choice in how we deal with it and its potential outcome. But, will enough people demand government change its ways and act in humanity’s best interest and ultimately that of the planet?
5 KEY POINTS OF DR. SHIVA’S TO CONSIDER
Corruption is widespread through medical infrastructure.
Big Pharma educates western medicine with a complex approach of “needing” pharmaceuticals (e.g. mandated vaccines) rather than effective, simpler and less costly solutions.
Media sensationalism ignores our crises of greater numbers. If an average of 15% of people are infected in past viruses and .3% die, even doubling those numbers now does not meet the 600,000-700,000 deaths from heart disease, 500,000 from cancer, 440,000 from medical error, and 200,000 from drugs — yet we do not declare a state of emergency or economic shutdown.
Fear mongering weakens the immune system as well as poor choices and failing infrastructures with dirty air/water/food. Cleaning up pollution will make us healthier overall.
Viewing the immune system as the “operating system” for the body is an empowering and healthier protocol.
For a month I have complied with safety protocols. But, warnings sound when the government mandates further protection for my good. Omitting details on how to keep an immune system healthy helps sell drugs. Sorry! The truth hurts, I know. But, it does set us free if we are willing to look beyond the smoke.
You can easily support your immune system right now.
I began using supplements years ago after pharmaceuticals didn’t help. Having no profit to gain by sharing this, my motivation is similar to Dr. Shiva’s for personal well-being. While waiting a year or so for a vaccine, why not use this time to build a strong immune system, and particularly if a second wave of the coronavirus is forecasted? Here’s an inexpensive, basic protocol available right now:
Sunshine, Vitamin D3
Vitamin A – Rich, deep green veggies
Vitamin C – citrus fruits
Eliminate white sugar (it weakens the immune system)
Likewise, my other stress reducers are: meditation, Qigong, music, gardening, hand drumming, discussion groups such as the Tao, and uplifting readings from authors like Alan Cohen, Norman Vincent Peale, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. You know what your modalities are. Dedicating time to them promotes and defends your overall good health.
Lastly, Dr. Shiva also suggests fixing infrastructures to rid our environment of dirty water, dirty air and dirty food which are imperative to improved health but these solutions must be demanded from government.
Fill your head with the positive and I can promise you will feel less anxious. Take control of your health and I can promise a better outcome — for everyone.
Will humanity begin to balance darkness and light?
Through the Tao, I understand light and dark naturally coexist in the harmony of life. I see the coronavirus as a manifestation of imbalance in humanity and the environment. Yet I also see sparks of optimism, spirituality, envisioning, creativity, and fiercely challenging the status quo of power, greed and fear, igniting universal light. We are being given a choice. Do we continue spiraling down the darkened path or stride toward the light?
“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometime lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” ∼ Richard Attenborough
Change your life and change the world.
Simple choices like protecting the immune system, voting, boycotting unsavory companies, thinking for ourselves, and living sustainably, enliven our personal and global worlds.
Ask yourself, “How do I wish to live — being shut in my home, forbidden to congregate, and forced to have a vaccine…or to live responsibly autonomous and hug friends and loved ones? Whose words do I wish to follow — those of fear, hate, and control or ones of love, health and empowerment?” As Dr. Shiva says, “Know the truth, be the light, find your way.”
“There is a great God – a force of unbelievable Love – not the “love” of “I love you” – but the Love that connects you, back to YOU, that knows you are eternal, nothing can harm you, & brings forth the Courage to be an uncompromising Warrior for Truth Freedom Health. Be the Light!” ˜ Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai
May these sparks of light guide your way to revitalizing life for humanity and our planet.
Be a spark. Unite for light!
Notation: While I have reported on academia’s play for pay studies, I have included some of them along with other references for those who still view these organizations as the “top” authorities.
I could not let today go by without honoring Mother Earth. It’s sort of like remembering the birthday of a dear friend.
A fellow blogger’s repost inspires me to continue passing the message along. Perhaps you will too. It’s from 350.org which is an international movement working toward ending fossil fuels and building a world of renewable energy for all. There’s no better time to unite our momentum toward healing — the planet and ourselves.
We cannot go back to the old normal. It’s broken.
If you love Mother Nature as much as I do, give her a gift. Unite with thousands of individuals and organizations worldwide by signing this open letter in support of the five COVID-19 #JustRecovery principles:
Put people’s health first, no exceptions.
Provide economic relief directly to the people.
Help our workers and communities, not corporate executives.
Create resilience for future crises.
Build solidarity and community across borders – do not empower authoritarians.
It’s a tall order I’ll admit but one worthy of working toward.
Feeling antsy, impatient, or fearful while being cooped up during this pandemic? Personal contact and the ability to participate in gratifying activities like dining with friends or attending concerts are two pleasures I’ve missed the most.
Thankfully, though, it’s spring which means hours and hours of yard work assuaged with bird song, the warming sun, and dirt sifting through my fingers.Savoring nature’s gifts in the moment helps restrict thoughts of the coronavirus — even as cases escalate in my county. Of course following Rule #1 enriches tranquility: do not succumb to the media’s monotonous alarms. Choose instead to augment this extra time with uplifting activities. Here’s a few that I hope will help fortify your self-quarantine time too:
We’re starting a collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange. It’s a one-time thing and we hope you will participate.
Please send a poem or comforting thought/verse/text/meditation to the person whose name is in position #1 below (even if you don’t know them), with the email subject Uplifting Exchange. It should be a favorite text/verse/meditation that has affected you in difficult times. Don’t agonize over it. If you’d like to send a poem in your own language and provide a translation, please do so!
After you’ve sent the short poem/verse/quote/etc. to the person in position 1, and only that person, copy this letter into a new email. Move the second name to position 1, and put your name in position 2. Only the name you move up and your name should show in the new email. Send it to 20ish friends BCC (blind copy).(Sidenote, some friends found it daunting to select 20ish friends…I’d think 10ish would suffice.)
Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new pleasures.The turnaround is fast, as there are only two names on the list, and you only have to do it once.
Here’s the lovely poem I received:
AND PEOPLE STAYED HOME
And people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and listened deeper
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.
˜ Kathleen O’Meara
♥ Sharing Prayers ♥
Here is a prayer that we can pray as ONE:
The very energies that course through the Universe also course through us. May we look within, trusting Divine energies to guide the steps that we must take NOW. Let us pay attention to earth’s call for healing, and recognize we are the ones who hold the power to restore earth to her original glory. Hold us in healing peace and light as we journey through these transitional times.
♥ Helping with Humor ♥
Original image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
I was in a long line at 7:45AM today at the grocery store that opened at 8:00 for seniors only. A young man came from the parking lot and tried to cut in at the front of the line, but an old lady beat him back into the parking lot with her cane.
He returned and tried to cut in again but an old man punched him in the gut, then kicked him to the ground and rolled him away.
As he approached the line for the 3rd time he said, “If you don’t let me unlock the door, you’ll never get in there.”
🙂 🙂 🙂
Day 3 without sports: Found a lady sitting on my couch. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.
♥ Connecting Spiritually ♥
The first announcement indicated that the monthly Tao discussion meeting would be on hold until the shelter in place ceased. But, a second e-mail announced that the monthly meeting would be held via Zoom.
Two weeks later I received another announcement:
I sent you an invitation to be part of the creation of a new group that I am beginning. It is a virtual spiritual community that is inclusion of world religions and New Thought. A few other members of the Taoist group were interested so I wanted to let you know that you are more than welcome to try it out. Please do not feel obligated. I wanted to include everyone in the group and there are no hard feelings if you select not to attend.
While uncertain if this was the group for me, accepting this opportunity to fill my head with something inspirited rather than thoughts of the corona virus was the better choice.
♥ Positive Thinking ♥
Wordket’s blog post mentioned The Little Book of Lykke. If the government supplied all residents with a copy of this book, perhaps people would be faring better…in the pandemic and otherwise.
This one I’m saving for later. While I enjoyed blue skies and 60 degree temps a few days ago, it’s grey and blustering 45 mph winds now.The perfect time for coloring my thoughts with a mandala meditation.
Has something new come to you to cope with the shelter in place? How do you stave off boredom? What is your resolve to not falling prey to fear?
I agree with Stephen King and love this quote: “If you think artists are useless, try to spend your quarantine without music, books, poems, movies and paintings.” Or without positive thought, I’d like to add.
Going to the beach may not be a bad idea if proper distancing can be maintained, but this post is about our lovable pets — in and out of the coronavirus quarantine.
I am an unabashed, self-proclaimed Dog Lover. That’s Capital D, Capital L. Still missing my beloved Bess, and more than ever during this pandemic, I long for the phenomenal comfort only a pet can provide. Besides her love and sense of humor, I miss Bessie’s joyfulness for life. Her translation of shelter in place would undoubtedly mean endless adventures, Frisbee and gardening time! I can feel her enthusiasm even in sweet memory, and tears still fall from the tender hole in my heart.
Bess’ Kayaking Adventure
Bess Retrieving in the Pond
Tendrils of canine yearning began in February when discovering Potcake Place during my Turks & Caicos adventure. Completely run by volunteers, this puppy shelter offers outsiders the opportunity to walk and hold the puppies. People line up before 10AM for the chance to savor some love. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like holding a puppy or puppy breath. (Dog lovers know what I mean. Cat lovers maybe not so much.) The purpose isn’t to entertain tourists but to socialize the pups. What an awesome idea! Of course, Potcake Place also hopes you will courier a pup or better yet, adopt.
Potcake Place socialization walks and couriering information
The brindle pup is the one who went straight to my heart. (Notice the paw she repeatedly extended to me.)
I hadn’t actively been seeking Bess’ successor at that time, thinking I’d use the chasm of emptiness to honor her memory and travel more. But, then the coronavirus came along cancelling my spring walking tour in the Cotswolds, and heightening my craving for canine companionship. (I do have a cat but it’s not quite the same to me. Sorry cat lovers.)
Whether you do or don’t have a dog, cat, horse, bird, bunny, or any other pet, may you celebrate the comfort, love and joy these special creatures so generously offer. Support a shelter, adopt or foster if you can, and mark your calendar for National Pet Day on Saturday, April 11th this year.
Here’s more than a dozen places to show the love. Feel free to add your favorites here too:
Contrary news reports on the coronavirus got you feeling confused? Everything changing too rapidly to absorb? Feeling like you’re churning in a sea of uncertainty? No worries (unless that’s what you choose to do.)
Look at the bright side. Yes, there is always a bright side, as the Tijitu depicts and notables observed:
“Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity.” ∼ Paul Cezanne
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ∼ Pablo Picasso
“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood.” ∼ Henry Miller
There is an alternative to the negative energy of panic and hysteria that the media, skeptics, and worriers incessantly project with paintbrushes of gloom and doom. Change the lens of annihilation to burgeoning creativity and watch positive changes explode. Think mushrooms.
“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”∼ Edward de Bono
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ∼ Albert Einstein
Note: in seeking creativity, I’m not suggesting you become as reckless as the youth on Spring Break. While we are advised to remain home, limit and distance contact (sounds like most who are usually glued to devices at home anyway), there is another suggestion I like. A fellow blogger passed along the simple and safe greeting of Namaskar.
Namaskar. Hmm. That intrigued me. Years ago I learned in Yoga that namaste meant “the beauty in me sees the beauty in you.”Lovely sentiment, but it felt odd greeting others in my western culture with Añjali Mudrā (hands placed together prayer-like and close to the chest while bowing the head toward the other person). After all, I grew up giving hearty hugs to friends and family then firm handshakes in business.
But now, now that close contact can be downright dangerous, fist bumps are considered risky, and elbow bumping feels like the chicken dance, there IS a better way. And one that’s survived the test of time and viruses too.
Greeting others with Añjali Mudrā and saying Namaste or Namaskar perfectly solves the coronavirus admonition to physically disconnect. But, it’s the beauty beyond the surface — a profound connecting while disconnecting — that attracts me.
While various explanations exist for the differences between namaste and namaskar, I like the ones best on detechter.com. Either greeting is said to develop a spiritual connection with the person being greeted. More poignant than a casual “Hello,” “Hi,” “Cheers,” or “Ciao,” I love this greeting of respect and honoring the other person. May its use continue to outlast any virus.
The coronavirus is tragic, I agree. But, here we’ve learned something joyful amidst the corona confusion. Flourishing in the creativity of chaos can lift humanity to another level. The choice, as always, is ours. Let it begin with me.
Tired of hearing about the Coronavirus? Tired of hearing about my smartphone dilemma? With the National Day of Unplugging ending last weekend, I’m ready to close my Diary of Dates with a Smartphone — at least for another 11 months. So, before I get too heady with spring, here’s the last few entries (continued from March 8th…):
March 9, 2020 –Getting Smart with the Smartphone
Although a self-proclaimed Neo-Luddite, I am open-minded. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know — at least until you understand my perspective. Like the Tao’s Taijitu, nothing is 100% positive or negative, good or bad, black or white, all or nothing.
I’m receptive to smartphone lovers who state their phone is a helpfultool in life; that they can control their device. These smart users view their phones as mini portable computers. That simple psychological switch in terminology generates a slightly friendlier feeling toward my Pixel 3XL. After all, I don’t want the phone telling me what to do.
A carpenter friend barely contains his grin while telling me how he uses his smartphone. “After installing a dishwasher in a customer’s house, I sent them a photo with the bill on my smartphone. Within minutes they wired money back to my account.”
That IS an awesome capability. I get it. Yet, that same tradesman refuses any temptation to use his phone while socializing. He leaves it in his truck. Sounds smart to me, and considerate.
March 10, 2020 – Something IS Wrong with this Picture and it’s Not the Camera
Seeing the masses blindly tethered to smartphones and not interacting with each other in person alarms me. While the numbers* and terminology vary, smartphone addiction or problematic use IS valid. I often say don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out. Similarly, why would I try heroin knowing it’s addictive?
A friend in AA recovery tells me, “Most coming to Twelve Step meetings these days are heroin addicts. I see them glued to their phones, scrolling, scrolling, during the meeting…not paying attention to the speaker.”
How effective is that? “Does it mean they are doubly-addicted?”
“Well, I see it as disrespectful for one thing.”
He says current day addicts revolve through the rehab’s door. “It’s big business today. And the users wear it like a badge saying they’ve been through rehab 10-15-20 or more times…”
March 11, 2010 – If smartphones are so smart, why didn’t they learn any manners?
Signs posted at the bank and dairy store request cell users to converse outside. Sad that they have to tell people this, but at least they do. (Personally, my HSP characteristic would banish blaring TVs from waiting rooms — particularly doctor’s offices — as I find quietly reading more calm and healing.)
Yes, I admit, I’ve glared at someone loudly conversing on their phone in a medical office because I couldn’t concentrate. But, I haven’t glared at the driver sitting next to me at the red light who presumes I also want to hear their BOOM – BOOM – BOOM bass that is vibrating their car (and mine). No need for road rage, you know.
Unabashed concert attendees blind everyone else while holding up smartphones to record — or even watch — the live stage performance. Why not just stay home if they want to watch it on a screen? Didn’t I buy a ticket too to view the live performance?
A kindergartner on a smartphone at the school bus stop was asked, “What color is the sky?”
The child responded, “I don’t know.” (And didn’t bother to ask Google.)
March 12, 2020 – Slippery Slopes
A Neo-Luddite country store owner relates her recent experience to me. “When I walked into a church meeting everyone was looking down at their smartphones. I asked them, ‘Do you realize a shooter could have come in and taken all of you out — that quickly?’ For a minute they looked dumbfounded…then returned to their screens.”
Feeling that chilly possibility, we acquiesce that all of us have a hand in this. From parents entertaining their toddlers with smartphones while glued to their own device, to us not (politely) commenting to store clerks interacting more with their phones than customers. Groaning together, we ponder a future ruled by a brainwashed techno culture.
“So, where do we go?” I asked.
Shrugging, then gesturing to her right she offered, “The Amish community down the road…?”
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
March 13, 2020 – No Voice, No Choice
Rants about global human issues pervade the web but common consideration in close proximity is missing. I must remind myself to let it begin with me in saying what I mean, meaning what I say and not saying it mean. That goes for glaring too. If we can’t practice common courtesy on the local level, how will we ever get to global…much less world peace?
Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing.
Oh, I did say I’d include the yang side of smartphones, didn’t I? Well, here are 20 qualities that smart users shared which I’ll admit are attractive:
International friends (communicate for free and freely)
Text friends (although I’m concerned about eradicating the human voice)
Instant communication (not wait to get home for laptop)
Numerous features, all in one place
March 14, 2020 – Eggs in a Basket
That last attribute reminds me of the old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” which, in modern times, means “don’t put your life on your smartphone.”
My walking partner called in a panic. “You’ll never believe what happened to my son today. He’s sick about it.”
“What? You don’t sound so good.”
“He was standing on the dock at the lake when his smartphone fell in. He had everything on it. And I mean EVERYTHING. His personal contacts…but worse, ALL of his business information.
“Oh no! What’s he going to do?”
“He called a skin diver. The guy tried three times. But, it’s gone. Everything’s gone. He lost his orders, billing, suppliers, payroll…”
“Doesn’t he have that at the shop?”
“It wasn’t backed up yet to the new system.”
We both felt sick but not as sick as her son did. I do not understand this risk to reward ratio. Why would I hand over my life to a one-stop shop device with loitering hackers? It’s enough warding them off my PC — must I do battle on all tech fronts?
March 15, 2020 – Retraining and Playing Games
In revealing my precarious initiation with a smartphone, I’ve discovered through reviews that my Pixel may actually be faulty (repair diagnosis pending).
Smart users say they don’t do everything possible on their device, using it only for necessities. That scenario could possibly work for me — at least after it’s repaired or I get more educated. (Long, exasperated sigh.) Having to take time to learn something that was once simple — like using a phone — is a pebble in my shoe. But, by renaming the smart phone to mini portable computer, I’m more willing to get educated on a mini portable computer. No matter what, though, it has to stop bombarding me with things I don’t want or need!
Who’s Doing the Thinking?
Now, for the yin side. If you’re unaware of the dark side of smartphones, don’t ask Alexa or Google. Ask yourself, honestly, if any of these ring true for you:
Feeling impatient, fretful, angry, tense, irritated, depressed or restless when not with the smartphone, or when the cell phone network or battery is low.*
Thinking about the smartphone even when not using it
Giving the cell phone more time and attention than relationships*
Lacking interest in other activities and hesitating to interact with people
Missing work due to smartphone use
Low concentration or productivity due to smartphone use
Digital eye strains and discomfort from extended periods viewing a screen*
Wrist, neck or back pain or problems due to excessive cell phone use*
Constantly checking the smartphone for fear of missing conversations on social media such as Twitter or Facebook
Using a smartphone for more time than intended*
Others notice you are using a smartphone too much
Refusing to give up using a smartphone even when daily life is adversely affected by it
Inability to be without a smartphone*
Outsmarting the Smartphone
*I confess to these offenses when using my PC or the internet. Personal experience burgeoned my Neo-Luddism like the reformed smoker touting the evils of their former addiction. (I am a long ago reformed smoker who can’t have just one.)
My sincere aspiration is for people to stop and think. Consciously think— for themselves about their lives, their values, and relationships, rather than mindlessly be distracted with the superficial glories of advanced technology. If I add another layer of electronic distraction, what time will be left for the garden, hand drumming, reading books, cooking and sharing with people I love?
Many addicts assume it will happen to someone else but not them. Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self be true.” That’s best accomplished by getting quiet, away from distractions. If you fidget in silence, try walking outside (without the device) for 15 minutes a day. Then listen. Really listen — to nature, your surrounds, but most importantly that voice of truth within your self that is probably begging to be heard.
Are you long-time smartphone users happily married to your phone — or did you take a leap, unplug this weekend (for the National Day of Unplugging) and go it alone? How did it feel? Was the silence deafening or a reprieve? Did you feel like you lost your best friend? Truthfully. Maybe you couldn’t let go…
March 8, 2020 – Separation
I left the house today
And soon realized
I forgot the smartphone.
An automatic alert almost crept in — Should I go back?
But I automatically responded, “No. I’m glad to not have it here.”
And then I felt even happier to realize not only didn’t I want it
I didn’t need it.
Walking outside, loving the fresh air, sights of nature, and friendly hellos from those I don’t know in this other neighborhood, it is quiet enough to contemplate why I don’t need or want a smartphone or android or whatever you want to call this thing that wants to incessantly dictate my life, my time, my attention. My thoughts.
I feel content today. Well-rested. Productive. I woke up early, fed the cat, read the Tao, felt the circular Qigong flow, wrote, blogged, read and commented on some other blogs, began a load of laundry, read and answered some e-mails, cooked (not microwaved) and ate breakfast, took a 35 minute walk in the 40 degree cold… I never turned on the phone. In fact, I’m not sure where it is or if it’s charged. And I don’t care. At least for today. My HSP self loves the pace of days like this.
The Only Cure for Overexposure is Reducing Exposure
I discovered some surprising wisdom about technology in the Tao te Ching. Credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu from the sixth century BCE, his twelfth verse warns of over stimulation. This can easily be applied to smartphones and devices today:
The five colors blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavors dull the mouth. Racing through the field and hunting make the mind wild. Searching for precious goods leads astray. Therefore, the sage attends to the belly, And not to what he sees. He rejects the latter and chooses the former.
In The Tao of Joy Every Day, Derek Lin interprets Lao Tzu’s message to “care for the stomach and not the eyes” to mean “take care of the basic necessities of life and turn away from too much sensory input.” Lin further suggests “going on an information fast. Shift more of your time spent consuming content delivered electronically to simpler, more basic activities in life. Instead of indulging in virtual reality, spend more time in the actual reality of the physical world.” Makes sense to me.
I’ve wasted the last two days before leaving for Turks & Caicos trying to understand and get this device to cooperate – take a photo, upload a photo. Get a call. Make a call. Instead the Google Pixel 3XL alerts me with dings, pings, news, e-mail, and unwanted ads. I think I’d rather be bit by a rabid dog. I can’t stand it…my brain screams aloud!
January 30-31, 2020 – Incompatibility?
The Pixel does what it wants when it wants. There is no arguing or web-based solution I can find to stop it’s pounding on my door. “Go away,” I say. I think we are incompatible. “We are too opposite and set in our ways.” I value my independence, free spirit and ability to think for myself.
It’s 5PM now…I need to pack. De-stress. Get away from this. Live real life. Pick a book to read on vacation. Forget about passwords, codes, locking and unlocking. Forget the devices — at least for now. I need to get some things done. I’ve never been one to throw things but — if it didn’t cost so much, I feel like throwing this phone against the wall or in the trash. Now I’m becoming the monster!
I want to be productive!!!
A friend tries to cheer me with this video. Laughter is good medicine. And so are human friends with hearts.
February 1, 2020 – Mediation
It’s the day before I fly out. I don’t want to overload the phone’s memory with photos but I don’t want my photos in “the cloud”…especially knowing Google plans to hold me hostage in a few years by charging me to store my stuff in their cloud. I bought the cord that says it’s Pixel 3XL compatible but it’s not working…
Waiting in line 15 minutes for my turn with the Geek Squad, I’m behind a woman who could be my grandmother. We’re both patiently waiting while a middle-aged couple is being helped at the counter (see video above).
“Hi,” I smile, when it’s my turn, happy the grandson-like Geek is waiting on me again. I suppose he remembers me, the selfish middle-aged woman who doesn’t want to share with Google. But, I refresh his memory that he set up the phone and ask if he’d show me how to transfer photos from the Pixel to the laptop.
“I have to charge you $100 for that.”
What? “Just to give me instructions? It was $40 last time.”
Unsympathetically he shakes his head. “Sorry. It’s because data is involved.”
Disbelievingly, I shake my head. “No, I’m not paying $100.” My mind calculates the cost of this phone, the extra cables, protective case, glass shield, monthly service, programming… Do I really need this thing? I am paying a lot for this intrusion into my once manageable life…and that doesn’t count the expense of my emotional well-being or blood pressure meds I may end up needing. (Sigh.)
Leaving the store dejected, and feeling somewhat desperate, I remember there’s a PC shop down the road. It’s 15 minutes til closing time but the guy is friendly. He loves his Google Pixel. Finally, someone can help me! He patiently goes through the steps (a few times) and waits while I handwrite notes on what to do. Bless this man. He doesn’t even want to charge me and it’s a Saturday.
“I can’t leave without paying,” I say.
Slight pause, then, “Whatever you think.”
I hand him $25 and rush home to finish packing. I feel a bit lighter. A bit freer. Maybe, just maybe, this phone and I will become friends on this trip. I’m hopeful.
February 6, 2020 – Hopes Dashed
The endless Turks & Caicos sky mirrors turquoise waters. I think I’m taking photos to remember this bucket list trip. Back at the hotel, I swipe to see the photos. What? They are mostly shaky, pulsating videos. Have I mixed up the buttons? Apparently. I take more photos each day. Most I’ve deleted. Some accidentally. No need to download to the laptop. (I return home with a handful of pitiful photos.)
February 10, 2020 – Being Difficult
My friend calls.”How was your trip?”
We are in the midst of talking. I no longer hear her voice. I try calling back. No answer. My Pixel rings. I try to answer it. I hear her talking but she can’t hear me. She leaves a voice message. I pick up my landline and dial her number. We talk. Normally. We are not disconnected. The screen does not go black. I LOVE my landline.
February 15, 2020 – How Many Boomers Does it Take to Operate a Smartphone?
In the flooring store, I’m calling my installer for measurements. Hmm, good thing I have this phone — at least until it goes black. The phone rings and I can’t answer it. Two other boomers nearby try to help but none of us can get the call. One whips out his Samsung to make the call for me. A fourth person (younger store clerk) does the 1-2-3 swipe on my Pixel, touches my installer’s name in the contact list and voila’ the calls goes through. What?
Seeing my frustration, the boomer cashier says, “I hate these things. My daughter made me get one of these and I don’t know how to use it. I use to have a flip phone…” I smile back sympathetically.
I approach the younger store clerk. “Remember the last time I was here I just got this phone?” He smiles. “I still can’t use the darned thing. Could you show me how you got the screen back?” Again, he does the 1-2-3 swipe thing and says there are instructional videos on YouTube… Really? Does this “smart”phone have to be so complicated that I need instructions for the most basic tasks? I only want to make a call. Get a call. Take some photos… I am probably mumbling to myself at this point.
February 22, 2020 – Faster than…a Snail?
Finishing errands, I think I’ll use the smartphone to pull up movie selections on my way home. Wrong. The titles running quickly across the screen won’t allow me to select one. At the same time, I’m bombarded with flashing ads and annoying requests to download the movie app. Finally, I’m ready to give in — just to make them go away — until I see the app’s two star rating. Oh. (Groan.) I don’t need another problem to fix. I decide to not get involved.
I turn to YouTube for a tutorial. Halfway through it’s overtaken by another video that has nothing to do with what I was viewing. Really? This thing is“supposed” to save me time? I drive to the kiosk faster than getting the answer on the smartphone.
Most people tell me I have a calming presence. And I usually do. But the time this smartphone wastes raises my blood pressure. I’m afraid to see how high.
February 27, 2020– Limited Contact
The Pixel is charged but I ignore it. I resolve to turn it on for emergency calls only and hopefully better photos. I decide it will be my now and then, some of the time date. I think I can handle that.
February 29, 2020 – Misery Has Company
In sharing my vulnerabilities and frustrations with the smartphone world, I discover numerous others in my camp. Including my Tai Chi instructor.
Her “e-mail” reads “I have to laugh. My phone is back in its box on the counter. It’s been 30 days so I can’t send it back.”
She too, was forced to give up her flip phone for the supposedly “smarter” variety. I wish I could laugh about this. I’m also past the return date (and I suppose I would have to pay someone another $40-$100 or more to delete my personal info before returning it anyway…and then I have all those accessories too). What a dilemma. And a pricey one at that.
I feel a slight solace from others sharing the complexities of their smartphones or as another blogger prefers to call it the “dumb” phone. I’m gravitating toward this term.
March 2, 2020 – The Stand Off
Sadly, I realize if I don’t spend time with the smartphone I won’t be able to use it even for the basics — make a call, get a call, take a photo. Yet, my arms automatically cross when thinking about turning it on even for 15 minutes of “learning.” My mind shuts down foreseeing frustration. In honesty, I loathe the phone and it knows it.
March 5, 2020 – Imprisonment
I got along fine without a smartphone in my life before. Actually, I felt healthier. More calm. My life was manageable. I was efficient and productive. While the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” keeps returning in my head, the smartphone retorts, “If you don’t use me, you won’t learn how to, and then what? You can’t go back to the flip.” I feel trapped.
I don’t want the smartphone to think for me. I don’t want a smartcar to drive for me. I’m a great parallel parker and I back up just fine, thank you. Must I give up my independence? I’m feeling depressed. Maybe I’ll ask Google for a job so I can show them how to make a smartphone that boomers can use and actually like. Now I think I’m really losing it.
March 6, 2020 – Who’s at Fault?
Considering myself a logical, practical person, I question if the phone is really this complicated. Particularly when many tout the convenience of their phones while mine “wastes” my time. My flip phone would make a call, my camera took a photo. Maybe I got a faulty phone. Is it the Pixel or me?
March 7, 2020 – Lovin’ Life More than a Device
The National Day of Unplugging won’t be ending for me tonight. I’m so HAPPY without the phone. Doesn’t that say it all? And I think some others are too as evidenced by their dreams of unplugged time. I’m wondering what you did in 24 hours of unplugging. And I’m not talking about the sink drain…
Mark your calendar, set your alert notifications for the National Day of Unplugging which begins at sundown this coming Friday (March 6) and ends (only if you want it to) at sundown on Saturday (March 7). This mini diary on my smartphone experience explains why I’ll be unplugged too!
Using my brand new android smartphone, I attempt to photograph ceramic tiles in the Lowe’s home improvement store to coordinate with cabinetry. The 20-something clerk sees my difficulties and offers to help.
“I just got this,” I nervously chuckle while handing him the phone.
Quickly he swipes one way then another.
“I started with a flip phone in my teens,” he says. “Even I had to get use to a smartphone. But, you’ll love it,” he assures me. “You can get stock quantities. Use the calculator to determine your costs. Access your bank account to pay for it…”
Oh, not my bank account. But, he makes it look so easy I’m feeling slightly optimistic. I just need practice. I leave the store, my heart warmed more from human kindness in my moment of vulnerability than the possibility of being able to operate my smartphone.
January 17, 2020 – “If You Don’t Use it, You Lose it”
That wise sentiment has survived generations. Because it’s true.
Traveling to a town I haven’t seen in a decade, I momentarily feel lost on an unfamiliar street. Almost instantly I think you have that phone. Pull over and use the GPS. Instead, I look ahead several blocks and see enough moving cars that it appears to be a main road. I decide to use my own skill and think for myself instead of relying on Google for the answer. My instincts are right. I find my way. And I feel all the better for it.
Again and again, I consider the term “smart”phone. Are these phones so smart they make people do stupid things like walk into traffic? Some users can’t even name the street they are standing on. Employees know nothing about the company that employs them or products carried…deferring to the “smart”phone for the answer — or worse yet, telling me to ask a smartphone for the answer.
When phoning my state’s Attorney General because of a telemarketing scam, their Office of Consumer Protection could not explain the difference between a credit freeze and a credit hold. She had to Google it. If 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, I wonder how many can still think for themselves…assess a situation, then think deeply to find a solution without resourcing the phone.
January 18, 2020 – Pushiness Does Not Win me Over
If my android smartphone behaved like my PC where I turn it on, use the programs I need then call it a day, we might get along. But, this smartphone is like a braggadocio date constantly pummeling me with hype. Groan. I don’t look forward to our time together. Instead of extending a hand in friendship, this lurking, slurping, berserk monster tyrannizes me with snarls and bites.
January 20, 2020 – Isn’t Swiping for those Tinder People?
Swiping left — right — up — down makes my head spin. Finally I discover how to change all the swiping to buttons. Yes, I can deal with buttons. I think. But mine are getting pushed.
Today, I’ve decided devices are NOT healthy or friendly and especially for HSPs who can already be too easily overwhelmed. Today, I’m not horrified, just frazzled. While my reasons are different, I definitely feel the link between tech devices and anxiety (and I barely engage with social media). The tracking-tracking-tracking and attempted reprogramming feel like I’m corralled with sheep for slaughter. I refuse to be a clone of whatever SM (social media or techno sado masochism — you decide) or the Evil Tech Sextet (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) tell me to believe.
“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our devices.”
I prefer burying my nose in the rose bushes or sun-warmed tomatoes and basil, thank you.
I’ve learned that I often get what I need. So, in a way it was no surprise to read the following message in The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski:
“…we end up addicted to busy.
“The smartphone, our most constant companion, is a shining example of this mentality. A recent survey of San Francisco residents found that on any given day, most people interact with their smartphones more than they do with other human beings. Half of the people surveyed admitted to using their phones to escape social interaction, and nearly a third said they felt anxious when they didn’t have access to their phones.
“Remember when computers were sold to us based on the idea that they would create more leisure time and greater human connectivity? I want my money back.”
I agree with Frank. Big Tech’s given me no reason to believe their phones are for my “convenience.” Remember the promise of a “paperless society”?
Ever stack up your junk mail? It all sounds great on the surface (marketing propaganda usually does)…but in reality I have wasted more time from companies breaching my data and it being sold on the dark web, to deleting phishing e-mails, to avoiding spam calls, and on and on. Why would I want to give up any more precious time and privacy, or put myself at further risk? This is why all the extra “capabilities” of a “smart” phone do not make sense or appeal to me. Seeing a family sitting together with each person’s eyes glued on their own smartphone saddens me.
The Natural Rhythm of Life
Frank Ostaseski quotes a late friend, Angeles Arrien, who often commented that “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live in the fast lane, out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane: we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.” He says she encouraged others to walk outside for an hour every day and spend at least a half hour in silence every day. “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced,” she said. “To be fully present within our nature, we must be in balance with the land around us.”
I think Angeles was on to something. Surely, I am not the only one in this minority of Neo-Luddites (or partial Neo-Luddite as I’m not an all or nothing gal, or maybe just group of self-reliant persons). This sentiment rings true with me when observing smartphone users: “A cellphone signals my whole world is me and it excludes everyone else.” Remember the old tagline, “Reach out and touch someone”? Try it for real while you unplug this coming weekend. Your smartphone can’t hug you like a friend.