He tells me it is going to be a phone-free weekend.
“Can I bring my phone?” I ask my seven-year-old son, not knowing how important it is to him that we go camping—just the two of us.
“No,” he says firmly.
“How about just to take pic–“
I have a small knot of anxiety that I can feel in my gut thinking of potential contracts that will have to wait… that I might lose. I need my phone!
I leave the iPhone in the glove box of our now-dusty CRV and don’t take it out for the next 24 hours. Ya. 24.
For some, that might not seem like a big deal. But if you’re like me, your phone is always on your hip. It’s your lifeline to the business world. It’s not only a social reference point but an economic indicator as well.
Our ten-by-ten foldable canopy covers our fire pit nicely so he and I can get a flame going in spite of the rain.
“What kind of fire do you want to build?” I ask, thinking of all the different styles we could see if we googled it.
“Stacked, like this.”
“Like a cabin!” I say, thinking a teepee would be much more appropriate.
“I’ll do teepee, then.”
The cabin works out better in the end. We finish off the night with a Geronimo Stilton book.
I’m thinking about how often my son is on the iPad and how I’m constantly on my phone. I think this as I feel the grain of the paper under my fingertips, feel the flex of the paperback. We play 20 Questions, tell some funny stories, and fall asleep at the same time. Beeps, flashing lights and notifications replaced by crickets, starlight and raindrops.
In the morning the rain lets up so we go for a hike.
“Can I take my phone to take pictures?” I ask, thinking that one night away from the Apple might have been enough for him.
“Well, I guess it’s just us and the forest then, eh?”
We walk. We come across some mushrooms.
“Can I eat that?” he asks.
I think how I wish I had an app for that, but even if I did, I don’t have my phone. “I’m not sure man. Could be poisonous.”
We carry on, discover new places, all the while taking pictures with our minds. From the canoe we drop a few lines; we don’t catch anything. But we’ve got real worms and I’m hearing my son for the first time in a while. Really hearing.
Looking back, if I’m very honest, it took a while for the monkeys to stop jumping in my brain. I was physically and emotionally anxious when we first got there and I felt like I had to “detox” from my phone.
After our hike we cooked some mac n’ cheese over the fire, roasted marshmellows that neither of us really wanted to eat, and polished off a bag of Swedish Berries.
And if you get really honest with me for a second, you might admit to doing what I do sometimes: I zone out. The honest truth about my phone is that—without needing to—I often look at it. It makes me feel needed. It makes me feel important.
It’s the tyranny of the urgent that keeps me—and those like me—tethered to our phones.
Though I don’t always adhere to it, I’m familiar with an old Judeo-Christian belief that says one out of every seven days should be devoted to resting. This “Sabbath” lifestyle is seen in farming as well: fields are left fallow to rejuvenate.
Do us dads think we’re tougher than the soil on which we stand?
I think those that use their phone as much as I use mine need to chill out. Rest a while. And since work can never escape us, we need to take drastic measures to protect our sanity—and the relationships we value so highly.
Take a break from the phone. Go camping. Try Sayres Lake. Anywhere out of cell service if you have to!
Written by Darian Kovacs.
Darian is principal of the award-winning Digital Marketing and PR firm known as Jelly. If you didn’t already know, Darian brings unparalleled charisma and excitement to the brands that he popularizes (is yours one of them?). Known for off-the-wall ideas and fantastic stories, Darian’s energy keeps the Jelly bus rolling down fun and fabulous roads.