Monday, April 18, 2011

Living your way into an answer (the case of the cell phone)

A few months ago, my cell phone broke. It had lasted me about 5 years, so I was sad to see it go. I had known this was coming for a while, though, and luckily had prepared myself. I tried to get a new phone, but due to my chemical sensitivities, that didn't work. I thought about getting a used phone off Ebay, but didn't want to pay money for something I wasn't sure, again, would work with my MCS/chemical sensitivities. My grandfather offered me his used phone, but I wasn't sure I wanted to switch to Verizon, having been on AT&T for so long. In the meantime, I used Skype to make outgoing calls and recieve incoming calls, because for only $7 a month, well, why wouldn't you?

At first I was a little overwhelmed in trying to figure out my options. I kept going back and forth through the merits of each - try another new phone and hope it outgasses quicker? Just buy a used one, like I did 5 years before? Or use my grandfather's, but would I lose anything by switching phone companies?

Since I didn't have to make a decision right away, though, I didn't. I used Skype and thought about it on occassion, never really arriving at a decision. Also, I was waiting for the first new phone I got to be returned to ATT, which took a few weeks.

One night several weeks later, I was checking my email and other sites, and found that my phone had finally been returned. This spurred a whole new round of speculation. I realized, though, with a flash of inspiration, that Skype worked so well for me (hands free phone, gotta love it) that I didn't even want to sign a 2 year contract with ATT to get a fancy new phone whose features I didn't really need and which I didn't want to wait to outgas. I wasn't going to pay for a used phone that may or may not work. In fact, I didn't even WANT to use a cell phone anymore, except for emergency use. So, then, it made sense just to use my grandfather's phone and get a very small plan on Verizon (they have no contract pay as you go plans) and use it for emergencies.

Now, this may seem an obvious course of action and perhaps even somewhat boring, but it is significant for one reason. It is the only time in my memory that I have ever been able to just "let something go" and let it get solved in due time. I am usually very bad with uncertainty of any kind and want to have a solution to any problem the moment it comes up.

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." — R.M. Rilke

I have always loved this quote, but never been able to quite follow it.

With the case of my phone, I did though - and I did live my way into an answer.

I realize from this that there is some value in the "wait and see" approach, and hope that I can use this approach more in the future to better deal with uncertainty, at least to some degree.

Sometimes the smallest things in life can yield the most interesting insights, and you have to hold on to every one with all you've got.