Lost iPhone on dream vacation, not a nightmare.

Lost iPhone on dream vacation, not a nightmare.

Living in the Moment: A Phone-Less Vacation

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Our much-anticipated trip to Spain and Morocco, meticulously planned by my wife Julie over the course of 15 months, hit a snag right from the start. As we arrived in Chicago from Portland, Oregon, we received the news that our connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey, had been canceled due to inclement weather. Standing in line for two-and-a-half hours, we were informed via text that we might be marooned in the Windy City for a couple of days.

Julie, a thirty-year Spanish teacher, was on the brink of fulfilling her lifelong dream of visiting Spain. With the possibility of missing out on several bucket-list activities, her worst fears about the trip were quickly becoming a reality. When we finally reached the service desk, our hopes were dwindling. However, to our surprise, the agent offered us an alternative flight that took us all the way across the Atlantic.

Julie burst into happy tears, and in a moment of elation, I jokingly asked the agent if he liked cheesecake. Although he declined, mentioning that his wife did, I insisted that his wife would have cheesecake that night. With our flights rearranged, we set off on a journey that would eventually arrive in Madrid, albeit nine hours behind schedule. The world felt right again, or so we thought, until a startling realization hit me just as I was about to indulge in a Belgian waffle at the Brussels airport – my iPhone was gone.

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Frantically searching through my bags and retracing our steps, I reluctantly acknowledged that my phone was lost, and the chances of seeing it again were slim. Strangely, a sense of calm washed over me. As we made our way back to the gate, I turned to Julie and declared, “Screw it. I’m not going to let this ruin our vacation.”

Now, as someone who tends to be anxious and obsess over such things, it was a bold statement. Surprisingly, though, I can proudly say that I stayed true to my word. Even more astonishing, I have been without a phone for three weeks, and I haven’t really missed it all that much.

No big deal

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Perhaps the whirlwind of activities that Julie had planned distracted me from the absence of my phone, or maybe it was the fact that I brought along my new iPad, which miraculously remained in my possession. During our 17-day trip, I consistently relied on the iPad for checking emails, browsing Facebook, keeping an eye on our bank account (a peculiar habit of mine), and tending to my fantasy baseball teams. No longer did I feel the urge to constantly check my phone out of habit.

Since Julie took charge of photography, I would simply ask for her phone if there was a specific shot I wanted to capture. I also informed my adult children to contact Julie if they needed to reach me. The only inconvenience, much to Julie’s annoyance, was my failure to bring my Apple Watch for fear of losing it, resulting in me frequently asking her for the time. However, in the grand scheme of things, it was a minor inconvenience.

A freeing feeling

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Losing my phone unexpectedly bestowed upon me a sense of liberation from a vaguely oppressive compulsion. Without a phone constantly within reach, I found myself no longer plagued by questions like, “Did someone text?” or “Are the Yankees winning?” (these days, the answer to that question is probably “No”). The effort required to retrieve my tablet or sit down at my laptop to seek answers lessened my fixation on these trivial matters.

One unanticipated benefit of living without a phone was my ability to immerse myself in the present moment. As we marveled at impressive sites like the Alhambra, an ancient palace and fortress complex in Granada, Spain, I no longer felt the need to capture every single thing with a photo. I was astounded by Julie’s innate understanding of this lesson, as she often decided to put her camera away and simply take in the breathtaking scenery. Moments like sitting atop camels, watching the sunset in Morocco’s Agafay Desert, became even more meaningful when we decided to prioritize experiencing the moment fully.

Moreover, the loss of my phone led to more engaging conversations with Julie and fellow travelers, conversations that may not have taken place if we were absorbed in our devices. Throughout our trip, we dined at various restaurants, observing countless individuals fixated on their phones instead of engaging in dialogue with their companions.

A new leaf?

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So, what will become of me when my phone either resurfaces (I’m convinced it’s hiding under seat 42K) or I am forced to acquire a new one? The answer still remains uncertain.

Having used smartphones for close to a decade, breaking those habits permanently is undoubtedly challenging. However, I sincerely hope that I undergo a transformation. Why? Despite the mere ounces that my phone weighs, losing it felt like a significant weight lifted from my shoulders.