It’s the ding that really gets me. My husband and I are sitting out on the porch in an almost-fall-like morning, sipping a cup of coffee when I hear it. The ding of an incoming message from my daughter’s iPad. My daughter does not yet have a phone. And I realize in this day and age how crazy that is. For her, I know it is starting to feel more than a bit odd.
She is quite literally one of the only people in her school that doesn’t have a phone. Yet.
And our reasons for holding back for as long as we can are very simple: we don’t to add into her life more to navigate, and decide on. Or rush towards.
The ding of course does that. All on its own.
It initiates, for all of us, a trigger that it is time to act. But act on what? Where is the emergency? And it occurs to me that we all live this way, on-call for whatever comes up in life. Most of the time, maybe even almost all of the time what comes up isn’t emergent. Or necessary to act upon.
But we often jump to it. And my anxiety around wanting my daughter to heed the lesson in it is apparent as I hop onto my parenting soapbox and deliver perhaps one of the most important messages about not missing life:
The ding is the downfall.
It makes harder your ability to slow down and quiet the noise.
The ding makes creating your life more than a wee bit more difficult.
And that is what I preached today to my daughter, who actually sat for the sermon focused on what I was saying.
It isn’t necessarily that how I was speaking commanded her attention. But what I was saying clearly resonated. I told her if there is one thing I want you to remember as you get older and go out into the very noisy world is that you have the choice, the power really, to decide what you let in. You have the power to decipher if any clutter you hear, see, or feel, needs to penetrate you in any way.
The ding of the iPad or a cell phone these days is now background noise. Anyone you talk to will tell you that it is just par for the course, a seam in the fabric of life that you can’t unthread. And while that is partly true, it is something from which we can all learn.
The lesson I imparted to my daughter, and what I want to impart to you is that the ding is representative of a great need to temper all kinds of noise and the rushing through life that it creates. It’s imperative to pay attention to this need if you want to be present in living your life. And actively create it in a way that fulfills you.
Regardless of your age, fulfillment feels good.
I know I am not the only middle-aged person who thinks that. My 13-year-old daughter gets it. And so does my 75-year-old client. This leads me to believe that we all, collectively, want our lives to mean something. And we want to be part of making that meaning.
To do that, we have to be present. And we have to slow down the rush that is seemingly ingrained in society. We must curb the amount of information we let in.
And it starts with the ding.
The ding doesn’t mean you should drop what you are doing – even though many do (my daughter included).
Perhaps silence it, and set a time to check messages. I made that suggestion to my daughter and since she reacted as if I was telling her to cut off her pinky finger, I suggested that she practice tempering her reaction when she hears the ding. Really paying attention to how she reacts to it. I suggested that when she hears it, instead of adding any more “rush” to her life that is already riddled with incoming information she reminds herself that she has time to address it.
And so do you.
There is a ton of information put out there. The opportunity is there at every turn to be “connected”, in the know, aware of everything that is going on! A lot of it is just noise. And it perhaps subconsciously is a weight. And it will get heavier and heavier if you don’t do something about it.
The literal dinging of a phone, or a computer, or the noise that comes from outside opinions and expectations, or the physical stuff you buy to make you feel better is nothing more than clutter. And it distracts you.
The distraction pulls you away from being in the present, finishing what you started, and appreciating what is in front of you.
The focus you lose is big. Because it often is the catalyst for clutter of all kinds. Of letting in more because you can’t slow down or quiet the noise enough to decipher what it is you really do need. We all know that clutter confuses. It puts a big roadblock in your path and detours your well-intended plans for fulfillment in your life. And that isn’t the way to live simply, and well.
Part of what I do as a minimalist coach is to help you create your life. It sounds very broad, and in some ways it is. But it is based on finding simple ways, simple processes, and procedures that allow you to quiet the noise, pause for a minute or a day, decipher and decide on what belongs in your space – and your life.
When you allow for that, you allow yourself to not miss your life while you are also managing it.
Find ways to stop the ding (and any kind of noise). Or at least quiet it enough from time to time so instead of reacting to life, you are able to respond in a way that helps you be your best.
My daughter is likely to get a phone before she turns 14. And I can only hope that one or two of the lessons we have been tossing at her stick in some way. That she knows how to still herself in her present-time activities, and why doing so can only help her keep slower the pace of life.
So it doesn’t rush on by.