When I was 8 or 9, I used to call sports phone 976-1313; when you got through, there would be a recording with updates of scores from major sporting events. One day I was reading the phone book. I saw the weather phone numbers in different states, So one day, I started calling this 976 number in New York; I had never been to New York, but I thought it was cool to know the temperature in New York, so I continued to call each day, and each day I knew the weather in New York. Then one day, the phone bill arrived. My Father was both perplexed and livid. He immediately confronted my older brothers, but the phone bills had times on them. Both of them had been working, no one would’ve thought the seven-year-old would be the culprit behind this crime, but I was. I learned two important things about myself, One I love information, and 2. Too much information can bring about negative consequences. Fast forward forty years, and I still love information, but I am learning that too much of it is bad for my mental health.

My Father is no longer around to ground me, so I have to punish myself. ( note some of you may think to punish is a harsh term and perhaps I should say something different more uplifting, but I am going to take some time here to embrace the old school way I was raised, discipline and consequences for my actions aren’t a bad thing)
I started using the Downtime application on my phone. You input time, and then your phone doesn’t allow you to open apps. I have been setting my Downtime for 9-6 on Saturday and 9-2 on Sunday. On Saturday, we went to the park to meet another family, and as my son was walking and talking with his friends,
Usually, I would find my time buried in a screen, catching up on scores, streaming college football, browsing stories, scrolling away, poking my head up to be able to see my son, or to chat with the others around.

With my phone on Downtime, I took in the surroundings in the park.

I found myself watching people toss balls to their dogs. The owner would hurl the ball, and the dog would run full speed after it. I took the time to look around the park and noticed families wearing masks and social distancing. A skater was shooting a skating video, and a man was dancing in a corner. Someone was playing roller hockey on the court.
What I took in from the park was a different story than the one that is constantly bombarding us daily from the endless news cycle. People were wearing their masks, people were laughing, no one was fighting, there were signs of struggle and suffering, I could see a few tents for the homeless, yet for the most part, it was peaceful and serene.

This type of information was what my mind needed. The sounds and sights of my surroundings. Information is designed to produce a mood or change mt behavior to purchase products, goods, services, my votes, my opinions, and my information. Nature only gives back to me, it only asks for my engagement with my senses, and it pays me back with peace and calm.



One thought on “Downtime

  1. another great post Steven and it is a real reminder to be present and how we can satisfy our curiosity and desire for information without needing our heads in a screen.
    Oh, and I can really relate to 7 year old Steven as I can imagine the desire to do something similar myself

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *