In the Bathroom: A Few Minutes Alone

(A series of articles exploring alternatives to the daily barrage of information, images and thought-clutter that comes at us through our handheld devices. I have been experimenting with electronic-free venues, in order to reclaim the real estate of my mind and inner life, with pleasing results. This is Venue #4: The Bathroom.)

O.K. I’ve been exploring electronic-free places of margin in the interest of personal sanity and the recovery of the precious space between my ears and inside my skull – my mind. But in the bathroom?…Really? Uh, yes…really.

In our home, family members retreat to the bathroom not only to take care of business, but to be alone, uninterrupted, on the “other side” of the door. Somehow, this small but necessary room is granted a degree of privacy and personal space that no other room in the house offers. It would be a shame to bring the outside in by way of a handheld device; and yet we do just that.

There are so many good reasons to bring in our phone; there is time to text a friend, to do a little online research or shopping, to play a game, to check the latest sports, or weather, or politics, or earthquake activity. Alternatively, the bathroom could be that space apart: that space where we not only shut out the world physically, but we vacate the rush of things mentally also.

There are many invisible threads that keep us firmly attached to our phones: gossamer threads, just nothings really. But the silken lines are multitudinous. And because we deem the “little” spaces of time and circumstance insignificant and the “little more” time on our devises as inconsequential, we find that the threads have become for us a sticky web; they immobilize us. Our consciousness becomes a succession of small moments, continually interrupted; our own thoughts are diluted, distracted and lost. We don’t even realize it, but a poisonous paralysis has set in.

So, how do I use my sans-phone time behind the bathroom door? Well, I bring a notebook and a couple of pens into the bathroom with me. In my sequester, I write: I write to think; I write to feel; I write to gaze ahead into the future. I write to point my nose toward hope and toward action. And so I leave the bathroom, not more scattered and harried and diluted, but revitalized and focused and ready to go forward.

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