THE DYING OF THE STILL

 

Posted June 15, 2016

 

We stand with our heads in our phones as we ride the train.

We do it at the store, in the bathroom, on the plane.

Attached to our devices like cords to a socket.

We are all slaves to the boxes in our side pocket.

Addicts to the dopamine rush from the Facebook like.

The e-mail reply, the tweet and the Tinder swipe right.

This is how we all pass the time, but how could we not?

It’s either this or be left alone with our thoughts.

This is what we do whenever there is time to kill.

And so I am witness to the dying of the still.

 

Thanks to podcasts, driving no longer fills me with dread.

Suddenly gridlock doesn’t make me wish I was dead. 

But when I’ve listened to it all, and traffic is slow,

I miss the noise, the words, the company of each show.

I cannot take the silence and how long has it been? 

Only ten minutes? What kind of worm hole am I in? 

I think I can make it there, but I’m not sure I will. 

And so I am witness to the dying of the still.

 

This e-mail highlights the best articles to consume. 

I open them in new tabs, fun stories to read soon.

I do the same with a video shared by a friend.

Then again with a recipe someone recommends.

I won’t get through them all, but for the rest of the day, 

They will fester in my browser. Getting in the way. 

Fun items now becoming tasks of obligation. 

I am another member of overwhelm nation. 

The content is free and yet there clearly is a bill.

And so I am witness to the dying of the still. 

 

What’s your obsession? Twitter? Games? That smart watch you love?

Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Or all of the above?

How long do you go before checking to see what’s new? 

Now what if you try doubling it? Let’s see how you do. 

Normally check your phone every ten minutes or so? 

Well now try lasting for twenty. How long can you go? 

When I do this, my brain calls out toward my machine. 

Like it’s jumping from my skull, trying to check the screen. 

And so when I finally look, after all that time, 

The ensuing tidal wave of relief feels sublime.

I need it the same way that an addict needs his pill.

And so I am witness to the dying of the still. 

 

I’ve worked to block these distractions getting in the way. 

Making rules like only checking e-mail twice a day. 

Deleting Facebook was definitely a big one.

I quit playing Words with Friends, even though it was fun. 

But it doesn’t matter. The interruptions seep through. 

Like the hydra, cut one off, up pops another two. 

Because sure I have a goal to live distraction-free. 

But technology wants my soul, and she’s beating me. 

The match isn’t even close, she’s going for the kill. 

And so I am witness to the dying of the still.

 

Yet I am in awe of these things and their powers. 

The opportunities coming from those cell towers. 

I can talk to all my friends no matter where they are, 

I can hail a ride home when I didn’t bring my car.

I can meet a girl through any of a dozen apps. 

My bad sense of direction is cured by Google Maps. 

I can play music, even hear the songs I don’t own.

I can answer any question by checking my phone. 

I can do any task I imagine in my head. 

All from a little box, smaller than a slice of bread. 

Though I want to throw it out, I know I never will. 

And so I am witness to the dying of the still. 

 

So starting today, I’m trying to change a few things. 

Little shifts like leaving it on silent when it rings. 

I don’t need the alerts when I’m driving around town. 

I want to stand in line without always looking down. 

Next time I use the bathroom, my brain gets some time off. 

I want to rediscover boredom, my thoughts and sloth. 

When I work, I’m focusing on the project at hand. 

No tabs, no vibrations, no interruptions unplanned.

I’m eating breakfast on my porch, gazing at the sky. 

Not watching the images on YouTube passing by. 

Because I know the truth: that the still isn’t dying. 

I’m just missing it because I’m not really trying. 

I’ll find it where I left it, the last time I passed through. 

Once I stop believing there are better things to do. 

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