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Remember when Answering Machines were a thing?

I’d just flown in from Japan, stepped inside my house and Melbourne’s Spring sunshine beckoned me back outside to bask in it; more specifically walk to the beach and in bare feet let the crystal clear water lap at my feet.

So I did.

It was so perfect, so beautiful.

The air had only a gentle wisp of a breeze, the sun shone warm but not scolding, and the water was so clear and pristine that I could see little schools of feeder fish darting around in the shallows.

The gentle rhythm of the waves crashed on the shore’s edge over my feet and I was instantly grounded by the perfection of Mother Nature, and my gratitude for what lays on my doorstep and the holiday I’d just had.

I was smiling as I looked around at other beach go-ers getting amongst it, everything was so perfect in that moment I pulled my iPhone out to capture it and share it with friends due to return from the same trip a few days after me – I was already drafting the message to go with it; “Boys this is what you can look forward to when you return, summer has arrived!”.

But just as I snapped my last photo and went to put my phone away, plop!

Yep – I miscalculated and let go of my phone absently right over the lapping waves and before my eyes I watched it descend like a focused missile straight into its watery resting place on the sand bed. Shit.

Without second thought I calmly plunged my hand into the water rescuing it instantly as I turned and walked back up the beach for home, wiping it off on my t-shirt in an attempt to salvage it, as I walked past onlookers who would have watched this blunder unfold; all the while my energy was calm bordering on Zen-like, I didn’t skip a beat. I didn’t even berate myself.

All the same, I walked home swiftly, still wiping and tapping the phone against my dry clothes. I’d managed to turn it off successfully right away, in hopes it would preserve any chance of recovery possible.

I walked in the door at home and still hadn’t battered an eyelid. It was almost disconcerting that I was so serene about it all. I value my phone, it’s the first one I’ve bought outright instead of putting onto a contract. I value looking after my belongings. I value investing money wisely, not needlessly. I value minimising my part in consumerism. Why was I so at peace with what just happened?

I buried it in rice, with complete trust it would do the trick; I would retrieve it in a few days and simply pick up where I left off.

And that was it.

Now I was disconnected from the ever-present online presence we have become so fixated to.
I was no longer at anyone’s beckon call.
I was off the radar and back in control of my own accessibility.
Oh my gosh, I have been liberated!

Now just a mere 24hrs earlier, I had spent the last 2 weeks in Japan literally glued to my phone at the hip relying on it to navigate me around Tokyo’s streets, translate food labels so I didn’t accidentally eat Wheat, and snapping photos to document my trip like the truth of whether it happened or not depended on it.

My phone had become my saviour, my best friend and my memories.

I had been so connected with the world and plugged into the Matrix during my time away, that I began wondering if the Universe was doing its part to help me disconnect cold turkey with a valid excuse no one would challenge, with the real agenda being to simply gift me the opportunity to remind myself of what reclaiming my own time, focus and access felt like…

And fark it felt good!

Hours later, as I gazed over at my phone still sitting in its zip-locked bag of rice, I checked in and still, I felt so serene and ok with the incident, so neutral and disconnected from it, that I knew this was my window of time to lean into it, and really get clear on how I will police my expenditure of energy and how accessible I am once I turn my phone back on in a few days.

I’m half an introvert, so being off the grid totally floats my boat. I don’t tell friends, guess they’ll be learning it here for the first time, but I’d be happy if we only ever messaged when apart, and spoke verbally just when in person. I’ve always felt like I’m a bad friend for feeling that way, but quite simply, it takes a lot of energy, more than most, to be present in a phone conversation, and I give every call 100% – when the call is done, for me it’s not done. I now spend the next little while restoring the energy I expelled during that call.

Non-introverts might not understand or comprehend such a thing is possible, and that’s ok they don’t need to, it’s up to me to invest my time and focus as I choose. Each life lesson is showing me more and more, that I have complete permission to be myself, and not a version I think I need to be to keep face or avoid awkward explanations or justifications to others. Each time I step more into my own, more into who Chance is, and what that looks and feels like.

For me, I’ve made this act of accidentally dropping my phone into the drink form as a reminder that we are the creators of our lives more than we consciously give ourselves credit for, and I don’t know about you, but there’s no one in this world I want to be more than me; and the more I’m me, the more I give permission for others to own and embrace themselves too.

Standing by what works for us individually, can be the catalyst for breakthroughs that lead to success, the start of new friendships or relationships, or even the key that unlocks untold opportunities we’re yet to see unfold before us.

Last night I turned my phone back on, as I trusted it would be, it’s alive again and happy.

Within moments a barrage of missed calls, messages and notifications chimed away and flashed on the screen – I didn’t miss much. The world kept spining. Business kept humming, life carried on.

Happiness is now seeing that little Do Not Disturb moon icon in the top of my screen, and my phone being left in the other room. Unless you’re my Mum, no calls, messages, or notifications are interjecting into my day with their own agendas. The emails will wait until I get to them. The missed calls will be returned when I have the energy to give them. The messages will be replied to when I next check my phone.

Welcome to 1995 my friends, what a glorious place to be!
The best of both worlds. Technology in my pocket when I want it, and an old-fashioned ‘off the grid’ lifestyle when I don’t.

Just like fashion, we always circle back around to what worked in the past. Maybe it’s time to remind ourselves of how normal it use to be to call a friend at home, leave a message on an answering machine, and wait a day or two to hear back; and never as those hours passed did we question if they where ok, or question the value of our relationship based on how quickly they returned our call. Life was simpler then.

I have an affinity for simplicity, it permeates all aspects of my life.

This is a new way of returning to a version of simplicity that works for me. What areas of your life have you been toying with tweaking, but have hesitated to in fear of defying the social norm?

Chance :)

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