Occam’s Razr

Instead of trying new Screen Time cutoffs or another self-control building app, I took my phone out of its case.

It’s an experiment. I look at my phone too much, and not usually to do anything that really matters to me.

If the phone feels less durable and protected, will I pull it out less frequently?

Every time I reach for the phone becomes a risk calculation:

  • Is what I’m about to do important enough to risk dropping and damaging the phone?
  • Is this the best time and place to do this with my phone, or should I wait?
  • Am I feeling an urgent need to do this particular thing, or just an urgent need to do something?

After a week, my average pickups per day hasn’t dropped much, but average screen time per day is down over 30%.

I’ll see if this trend continues or if I get more comfortable with not using a case and taking more risks.

I’ve tried lots of fussy lifehacks and productivity tricks before. I’m learning to appreciate simple solutions.

Yelling won’t make the moles come off

My son loves taking things apart and putting them back together. Lego minifigures. Puzzles. If you give him some stickers, he’ll rip them into smaller pieces so that he can put them back together again.

Today he noticed the mole on my neck, just behind my ear.

“Come off?” he asked, picking at it.

I assured him that the mole was part of me and wouldn’t come off.

I hoped this would go smoothly, like the conversation during his bath a few days before about his head. Thinking about the heads on his Star Wars Legos, he turned his head back and forth and pretended to give it a gentle yank.

“Mine head come off?” he asked. “No,” I said. “You’re not a toy. You’re a person. Your head doesn’t come off.”

“Oh…” He sat with that for a minute. “Stormtroopers toys. Heads come off!”

After that conversation in the tub, it seemed like he’d found the line between how toys and human bodies work.

But after a few attempts to convince him that my moles were staying put, he came back yelling “Mole come off!”

Many, many times.

He needed a snack. In the end, it probably wasn’t about my moles at all.

Thinking back on it now, being two doesn’t seem to be the only explanation.

Frustration and anger create loops: This thing is wrong, and it is still wrong once I’ve noticed how wrong it is.

I spent part of my morning venting and retweeting about the most recent school shooting in this country. Raging about the people so convinced that the only right that matters is individual freedom, and that being asked to make any concession for the good of the group is a non-starter.

Their altar to unfettered personal freedom sits under a gnarled tree fed with the blood of children. It is forever thirsty.

But these are just words.

I might as well have been yelling about being angry that I can’t pull a mole off my neck with my fingers like I’m a Lego person.

This isn’t to say that people can’t change, or that hearts and minds can’t be won over. I don’t want to toss up my hands in some nihilistic shrug that this is just how we have to live.

But spending time online venting about it did nothing. Appeals for change or action pass unacknowledged into the void.

Any action that’s going to create real change won’t come through a survey, contact form, or social media post. The channels are built to let you feel heard, not to make sure you’re listened to.

I don’t know what that next step is yet. But I know our children aren’t toys. They can’t just be put back together or replaced if they’re damaged beyond repair.

How to Queue

Last night Dena and I spent almost as much time waiting in line for a rental car as we did flying to Denver. I’m not interested in naming the company or analyzing what went wrong. This is just setting the scene.

At around the one hour mark, I struck up a casual conversation with the man behind us in the queue. The usual small talk about where you came in from, why you were here, what you do, etc.

We didn’t seem to have much in common, but we kept talking. We were both stuck in the same line, and had the attitude that it was a better way to spend the time than fuming about something we couldn’t change.

And then he mentioned that he studied film in college, even though he never went out and made a career of it.

Boom. There was a stronger connection.

That sent us off on a whole trajectory where I found out he took classes taught by Stan freaking Brakhage.

So yes, I was exhausted when we finally got to our hotel, and dinner wound up being a sandwich from 7-11, but I ain’t mad about it.

I got to hear about the time that Stan Brakhage showed Jean Cocteau’s *Beauty and the Beast* to his class and then pivoted to using it to denounce Walt Disney’s filmmaking. Or how he loved to show Orson Welles movies and talk through them.

As Dena remembers it, “Yeah, you fanboyed hard.”

I did. It’s true.

We weren’t the only two people having that kind of conversation. I caught snippets of conversations from people jammed together in line who decided they could spend the night angry, or meet a new person.

There was time enough to move past the obvious differences and meet somewhere in the overlap on our personal Venn diagrams.

All because we were stuck in the same slow-moving line.

500(ish) Meditation Sessions

This morning I sat for my 500th meditation session since starting to use the Timeless app.

Screen grab from Timeless meditation app on iOS. Current Streak: 23 Days. Best 92 Days. Sessions: 500
Yes, I am mildly peeved that I didn’t sit for one more minute today to make it an even 3 days and 20 hours.

I’ve been meditating at least semi-regularly for around ten years. I’ve cycled through multiple apps in that time, so I don’t really know how much total time I’ve spent sitting.

But I know I started this some time ago, and I still do it. Almost every morning I wake up ahead of everyone else in the house to make time for it.

I know the day feels different if I don’t make time for it. Not necessarily worse, but different.

I know that it’s something I’m comfortable doing even though I’m not sure I’m doing it “right.”

The effort itself helps.

It’s a steady presence. Even though no session is the same as any other, the act of sitting, breathing, and not trying to restlessly chase some kind of input to fill the time… It’s a reminder that when I need to, I have tools to help me step back and find my balance.

Seeing the numbers used to make me feel like I was doing something wrong. That breaking the chain was a failure of character.

But the timeline is longer now. I can see I don’t need to be perfect at it to get value from it.

Every session is practice, even after ten years.