One of the things Joey and I are doing this year is homesteading. I don’t mean the kind where you move to the Montana prairie and just live-off-the-land in a small remote cabin… although part of us would love to. We’re just trying to simplify our lives and learn to be more self-sustaining. We’re planting a bigger garden, canning, freezing, and learning as much as we can about living off of the small piece of land that God has provided us. Eating more of what we grow with our own hands and less of what we find on a shelf in the grocery store.
Shopping for dinner at Kroger is definitely easier, but I don’t think it’s better. We already have a freezer full of chickens that we harvested last year and the eggs we have at breakfast every day are gathered a few minutes before in our henhouse. As this year progresses, we’re hoping to raise our own beef cow, a few pigs, and more meat birds and layers. A few weeks ago, Joey ordered 50 baby chicks and they came in the mail three days ago. It’s gonna be a fun spring.
Those things are easy. I don’t mean easy—work-wise… but easy—decision-wise. I have no problem heading down that path. But when it came to our cell phones, that was a little more difficult. I have every Apple gadget there is… iMacs, Macbook Pros, iPads... and Joey and I each had an iPhone. The technology that Apple has created has literally changed my life. They made it easy and understandable for me to learn to edit videos and photos, to build websites, to record albums at home, and do a thousand other things with just the click of a mouse. Steve Jobs single-handedly gave us the tools we needed to build a successful music career from home, in our own unique way.
But all that has come with a cost. A heavy cost. Although we still don’t have high-speed internet at our farm, our iPhones have kept us connected to everyone and everything at all times. They made it easy to check email, text, tweet, get the weather, watch videos, listen to music, etc… but they made it extremely hard to focus. They made it almost impossible to be completely present and in the moment. Joey and I found ourselves checking our emails every 15 minutes, googling our every thought, and texting instead of talking with people. Instead of simplifying our lives, they brought chaos, anxiety, and an unhealthy fear that we might miss something.
Joey was the first to jump ship. In early December on a trip home to Indiana, Joey dropped her iPhone by accident and it stopped working. So we stopped at an AT&T store to have it fixed (turned out only the charger was broke, the phone was fine). While there, the guy behind the counter said Joey was due for a free upgrade to the iPhone 5s. I thought “awesome!” But as the guy was talking, Joey saw a $30 flip phone on a wall display next to her and asked if she could have one of those instead. He said yes, but didn’t she want her upgrade? She said absolutely not. She left the store with an old-school flip phone and the biggest grin on her face that I’d seen in a long time.
About two weeks later, I went to the AT&T store in Columbia where we live and traded mine in too. Partly because it was the right thing to do, and partly because Joey didn’t believe I ever would. That’s been almost 4 months now and neither of us have missed our iPhones at all. We only have about 10 numbers stored in our phones now, so every time one of our phones ring, it’s a surprise to find out who is calling. And we talk to people again. They can’t text us, and we can’t text them. We don’t check our phones, because there’s nothing to check. It’s amazing.
I keep running into friends who see my little flip phone and say “man, I wish I could do that, but…” I just smile, because I get it. It’s big. It’s scary. But it’s also game-changing. The world’s moving forward so fast… and the only way to slow it down sometimes is to grab the brake and do something radical, like get rid of your smartphone, or disconnect your television (we haven’t had a tv in almost ten years). What is there to lose? Not much compared to what we can gain…the chance to truly “be” with our families, the opportunity to really talk to people again, the time to read a book that you can hold and touch in your hands, the chance to just be still and hear what God is trying to say to us.
Joey and I want to connect less with the things of this world and more with Him. I want to be a better husband and father more than I want to be a better businessman or songwriter or artist. I want to have the courage to make hard decisions when I need to.
I have to admit, our cheap little flip phones have definitely made our lives much, much richer.