I can think of 3 people right off the bat who would be filled with childlike glee if I were to suddenly and spontaneously become a phone person. And by phone person I mean: someone who picks it up when it rings, routinely calls back those who leave messages, and has a general fondness for the invention of being able to talk to people through the magic of wires, all of which do not apply to me.
What people don’t understand is that it’s not personal. It’s not like when the phone rings I run over to see who’s calling, just so I can flip them off and sneer at them by name. “Ha ha, grandma! I’m not picking up the phone because you’re stupid and I hate talking to you! Take that!” When the phone rings in our house it’s sort of like when you pass by that one inappropriate homeless guy who shouts obscenities on the street corner. We take notice, but just enough to avoid a personal interaction.
For the simple fact that it would be the end of me, I don’t have a cell phone. If I were to carry around an apparatus through which I could exchange text messages and check my email, I would never look up from it to engage anyone eye-to-eye ever again. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t have enough self-restraining ability to be fully present with whoever I was with or whatever I was doing, when my phone was beeping or dinging or otherwise jovially indicating that a new message had come in. As someone who’s both at home a lot actively on their laptop, and an avid emailer, my need for a cell phone is next to nil. When people find out that I don’t have a cell phone, they often comment on how awesome that is, as though it’s a noble choice they wish they could make themselves. It’s not. It’s really just a matter of self-preservation. Well, that and the fact that I have no want or need, nor find myself important enough, to be contacted when I’m out doing other things away from my house.
I do, however, have a land line. One of those old fashion clunky cordless deals with an answering machine attached – ya know, the thing I never answer. Aside from the 3 people who would be overjoyed if I were to ever pick it up when they called, the only other people who generally try to contact me are those that caused me to be repelled by its ringing in the first place. Namely, creditors. Those who call incessantly in attempts at retrieving money from me that I don’t have. Not that I’m giving them a hard time – I mean, they’re just doing their job. It’s not like they’re making up the fact that I owe them money. I do owe them money. So why shouldn’t they be calling? (I have a lot of unpaid medical bills from a plethora of different chronic health issues.) However, it’s also not like I’m withholding money from them out of some vain, spoiled rich girl conditioning where sticking it to the medical establishment feels like some sort of great victory. If I had the money, I’d give it to them, and I do, on occasion.
Taking second place, in the reasons of why I dislike talking to people on the phone, is that it tends to not be the most efficient way to spend my time – and I like being efficient. I find that the people who gravitate towards talking on the phone are people who like talking. Since I’m a good listener and not a big talker this can sometimes translate to my being held hostage on the phone while someone talks for a really long time.
Despite these insights into my character, I still find myself at odds with my behavior. What I’m saying, then, is I have more work to do around this. Experience has taught me that whenever I feel discomfort or frustration, there’s inner work to be done. I would like to get to the point where I don’t grumble, upon hearing the phone ring. And I’d like to stop being a stubborn baby when it comes to needing to call certain people back. So I do indeed have work to do.
I’m just beginning to discover that at the root of all of my wonderfully rationalizing reasons for why it’s perfectly acceptable and logical for me to dislike the telephone, sits something menacing lurking in the shadows. A constant companion, who on one hand is intimately and beneficially intertwined within all of us, and yet on the other, creates a whole lot of havoc. My old friend: ego. The part of me that needs to be right. The part of me that’s self-righteous. The part of me that rejects our inherent nature of interbeing and thrives in wanting to be unique and different. The part of me that is disconnected and hidden. The part of me that is difficult to own up to.
Ah, ego, my old friend, we meet again. And again. And again. And, yes…again.