Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spiritual Lessons From a Cell Phone

I write this post with an admittedly silly source of inspiration. Maybe it's better to just term this as a blog that is written for fellow users of the phone pictured above. I have had the T-Mobile Dash since October of 2006. I used to enjoy it much more, when I could access the internet for 5.99 a month through a quasi-loophole.

I also used to enjoy it much more when the battery held a charge well. After about 10 months of use, things were deteriorating. I would charge the phone for hours and it would run out of power within 1 hour. A few months later, I ordered a new battery from some ebay dealer for a few bucks. That sounded like the solution, except within 3 or 4 uses I was certain that this battery also suffered from the same problem. And so it was that for the next 5 months I would deal with a phone that would run out of batteries after about 45 minutes of talking time even if I left it in the charger all night. Of course, some nights I would be too tired, so as you can imagine, on some days I would have to charge it 3 or 4 times during the day because of a failure to do the overnight charge.

My pessimism over this phone reached its climax last week. I was on the phone near my computer and had it charging for about 4 hours that way. I left it in the charger, knowing its frailty.

It was to my great disgust that while on the phone the battery died, despite the charge going! I grabbed my wife's phone and called my friend back and continued the conversation, cursing the weakness of my phone. I was too tired to turn the phone back on so it wouldn't serve as an alarm and if anyone called me due to any possible emergencies, etc., I would be unable to answer.

The sun rose on the next morning with hope in its wings. For to my great surprise, as I turned the phone on after ~4 hrs of charging, it carried its battery throughout the day! I even neglected to charge it that night, and on the next day by late night it eventually was losing bars, but this was day TWO!

That's when I realized that my phone's charger, or the phone's design, the battery, or some odd combination of these various engineering components whose workings mystify my mind, did not operate the way I assumed that they did. It seemed like all I needed was electricity to go into the phone's battery. Whether it was on or off just couldn't matter to my "logical" mind, but reality showed the Procrustean problem I had created.
I tried charging while the phone was off for a second and a third time, and like the first time, it was as if I had a brand new phone.

So, to all T-Mobile Dash users, turn your phone off while charging, and your battery will last much longer than if you were to keep the phone on!

And so, as many of you would expect, my often silly mind saw poetry even in this cell phone lesson. For as much as my a priori considerations led me to assume that electricity would simply flow naturally into the phone regardless of whether I left it on, was text messaging, talking, taking pictures with its 1.3 megapixel camera or what have you, I did not understand this seeming flaw in the phone's design until its batteries were completely dead and I ended up charging it while off by accident.

Whether caused by a flaw or by damage, I have to pity my poor phone. And I have to learn from that phone--for my human nature is so similar to it. We seek refreshment and peace at moments in various ways; through meditation, prayer, recreation, vacation, conversation, and the like, but how many times have I glibly tried to read something or enjoy time with my family with phone calls and thoughts about e-mail/work/stress/money/the future/you name it plaguing my mind in the backdrop of that time that was set aside to recharge? It's almost as though one becomes even more tired when trying to think about one's duties while "recharging" simultaneously.

Like my phone, there have been times where my stresses from work, etc., have led me to become so frustrated mid-"relaxation" that I end up doing something foolish like get angry while I'm supposed to be having a good time with my kids, or reading an inspirational book. It seems that I am a human form of that T-mobile Dash, for good or for ill. And I think I'm not alone in being such a person who is similar to my silly, "flawed" phone. Take time to turn your "phone" of duties off when you're relaxing. Multi-tasking is for computers.

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