As a part of the 30-day phone detoxing that I underwent last month, I typed a list of activities I enjoyed, a list to aid me as I gained more time as a result of using my phone less. What things might I do with that extra time? One of the first things I listed was play piano.
It was 100 degrees on Friday afternoon when I was discussing with a colleague one of my favorite books: Silence in the Snow Fields, by the Minnesota poet Robert Bly.
He and I had recently agreed to start a mini reading group, as in the two of us. We wanted to pick things that one of us enjoyed and wanted to share with the other. I thought of Bly’s 1962 book, and I excitedly texted my friend.
The start of another school year always invites and compels me to reflect on my career. Today, for example, I begin my 16th year of teaching college English, my 7th as a professor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Yet as a freshman in September 1995, I did not dream of being an English professor; rather, I wanted to be a professional rock musician. (No lie.)
For 24 hours, from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, I didn’t use my phone, tablet, or computer. I turned off all of those devices. This digital sabbath was part of my phone detox plan as outlined in the book How to Break-up With Your Phone. My wife participated with me as well.
Summer is always when my reading drastically spikes, a habit developed long ago in my childhood and also a result of the library summer-reading program. Since my early thirties, I’ve maintained a quasi-routine with my summer reading: a couple of novels, a collected or complete poems by a poet, a couple full-length poetry collections, and a book or two on the craft of writing. In addition, I throw in some nonfiction.