I know it’s a bit cliché to criticize our relationship with our cell phones. But even though the label may be trite, the fact that the problem is still fresh (and is in fact getting worse every day) bothers me. A rather striking dance performance I recently watched live, for example, was swarmed by an army of glowing smartphone screens. (I shared my feelings about this topic in a post last year). This time around my problem lies with the cell phones that dominate the dining table. I’m still flabbergasted when witnessing those couples at dinner who stare at their smartphones. Shall we go to dinner so we can look at our Instagram feeds?
In my opinion if dining is one of the things that bequeaths life with meaning, then the other is deeply enjoyable conversations. And so the confluence of the two is a source of profound joy! Perhaps a lot of people agree with me and say who wouldn’t enjoy a good meal with good conversation. But then why do we obsess about the thought that there might be something more interesting than the present moment? (I’m not even going to digress into the subject of our unstoppable desire to shoot photos).
My 70-year old friend Richard, who I’m quite fond of, took me to the Chelsea Arts Club a few years ago and as we entered the venue, he alerted me that phone usage was prohibited. As someone who tries to abide by a rule that dictates not to take out my phone unless I’m awaiting news from someone, I savored this beautifully detached dinner indescribably. At a long table with many lovely strangers, we ate a meal synonymous with past centuries.
I have a tip that will help you stop depriving yourself of this pleasure. If you knew that the meal you were eating would be your last, would you put away your phone and enjoy every moment, or continue staring at your screen?
Then let’s proceed as such, every meal could well be your ‘last.’ And if you’re still alive, you have nothing but to gain from having eaten a meal with pleasure and mindfulness. Now, what’s so bad about that?
Enjoy your meal.