I walk along a path in the park and notice the little buds pushing through the earth, and once again I am in awe of how a brilliant yellow flower can emerge in perfect form from the brown of the soil.
Unfortunately, my focus is interrupted by the sound of a woman talking loudly on a cellphone, as if she is the most important person in the universe and has every right to disrupt the silence of my walking meditation.
A man who is walking toward me nearly bumps into me because he is texting and not paying attention. He gives me a surprised look, as if I should know better. I notice many heads are facing down toward their little screens, as their minds become lost in space.
What is this space, besides stiff necks and sore thumbs? It is a place of immediacy, and boy if you don't answer quickly, many feelings can be hurt and/or misconstrued. A client wondered if his partner didn't love him because she didn't text within the half-hour. What pressure.
Does his cellphone determine the extent of his trust? I have heard many people talk about finding their partner's passwords and spying on their conversations. Then there is the showing of the proof: Many will keep the series of messages and scroll down and point out, see, you said this and I said this.
Relationships aren't stagnant in the written word but shift and change with time. Having a relationship by communicating through writing can be a challenge without the intonation of the voice and facial expressions. A word can be translated from a compliment into an argument in a click of the send button.
The cellphone has added additional stress to business. People can suddenly reach you when you used to be unreachable.
Hanging up the landline used to mark the end of the day. You could be at a business lunch or sitting around a conference table and hear a constant buzz of vibrating phones and "excuse me for a minute while I take this important phone call."
What determines importance? Is the phone call more important than the important meeting? I may be old fashion, but I feel it is rude and wonder why don't we draw the line and establish proper cell phone etiquette.
Have you noticed how appointments change more, and deadlines suddenly may include additional work? Hundreds of questions, comments and verifications flood the inbox each day. It can be overwhelming. You may even pretend to read entire emails and be heavy handed on the delete button and soon realize that you have missed important documents and information.
So what do you do with this appendage to our hand? Can you approach it in a mindful way, where you maintain your own pace?
First, determine your time frame and how often you will check emails, texting or your phone. Is one more of a priority than another?
Some people indicate on their return messages that they check emails twice daily. Are you truly always needed or is that a misconception? People usually can wait.
Next, determine what and who your interests are. Delete all the other stuff -- the stuff that wastes time. It could be games that you have already mastered or yet another social network.
Make a rule that when you attend to your cellular device, you will only focus on that at that moment. Give it your undivided attention and then you can put it away. This will keep a clearer focus on what you need to accomplish on your cellphone and what you need and would like to do in life. It will help keep the automatic doing out of life and encourage being more present.
As the old saying goes, We are human beings not human doers. A real prize is: it may reduce stress.
Michelle Krepak, MSW is a clinical social worker with Family Centers. Serving Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Westchester County, NY. Family Centers is a United Way, New Canaan Community Foundation and Community Fund of Darien partner agency that offers counseling and support programs for children, adults and families. For information, call 203-869-4848 or visit www.familycenters.org.