Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Síminn minn fór til fjandans og tilbaka - losing my phone in Iceland and getting it back again

(Or, to literally translate the Icelandic part of this title, my phone went to the devil and back).

Hey guys!

So as the title of this post suggests, I've had some pretty incredible luck here.

A few days ago, while going out for a walk on a hill overlooking the fjord outside of the hotel where I'm staying with the people from my program, I realized when I got down to the water that many people's worst nightmares came true - my phone was missing from the pocket of my sweater.

I realized that, somewhere in the tall, flowing, and unkempt grass that grows across the vast property, it must have tumbled out of my pocket.

I was immediately filled with an intense panic, and spent almost two hours searching for it in a crazed frenzy.

Given the wide area between the last place I remembered using it, and the height of the grass in that area, I thought I was screwed for sure. But by some miracle, through a combination of incessant persistence, determination, and use of innovative technological techniques to track the last recorded location and narrow down the search area a bit, I managed to find it. Ironically, it wasn't even buried deep in the undergrowth; it was lying out in the open on a spot where the ground sloped a little bit.

Once the shock cleared and I actually managed to realize I was seeing it, after having fully prepared myself not to see it again and deal with the related consequences, I grabbed it and jumped in the air, taking advantage by the lack of other people wandering on the mores to let out a boisterous whoop of celebratory joy, running until my lungs gave out on my way back to the hotel, and bowing comedically as everyone clapped upon my return with the phone in hand.

Though I'm admittedly very glad that I got my phone back, I'm also grateful for a number of important lessons that my three days without a phone taught me.

Let me make it clear that the main reasons I freaked out about losing my phone were two fold: not being able to take pictures of Iceland, and also the costs I assumed would be involved for my family to replace the phone and transfer its contents. Not to mention the fact that I was immensely angry at myself for having been careless (it was in the pocket of my sweater, which I knew was probably not too bright an idea).

The thing I actually enjoyed the most about not having a phone was that it forced me to reevaluate  attachment to various social media apps and connectivity, and to focus on the moment completely. This is something which I try to do as much as possible in my life anyway, but had intended to do further in some way for a while. This was perhaps the only aspect of the experience of losing the phone that I actually enjoyed. For three days, anything and everything I did, whether it was watching the Olympic opening ceremony with my group and loudly, raucously cheering every time someone's home country marched in the Parade of Nations, jumping into an ice cold fjord at sunset with a Brit, a Scot, a Czech, a Vermonter, a German, and a Canadian, or just enjoying walks out by the fjord (while looking for the phone haha), everything was done with no thought to what might become an eventual Facebook status, Instagram photo, or Snapchat update. And I liked that.

I genuinely enjoy communicating with other people in my life and sharing things through social media, but begin forcibly cut off for it and having to live without it for a time, reminding me it is ultimately not necessary in my life, provided me some good perspective.
I'm definitely glad to have it all back, but from now on I will be a lot more measured in my use of it, making conscious efforts to leave my phone in the car or room sometimes, and be as present in my own life as I was without a phone.

It also did great as a bonding experience. With pretty much all in my group here being fully conscious of what a drag it is to lose a smartphone in today's world, everyone was genuinely sympathetic and very, very helpful in ways I didn't imagine. Without even asking for assistance, I found myself one among three different scouting parties up to eight strong that volunteered to come help me look for it, and that was incredibly touching. People were also honestly invested in the issue, and happy for me when I found it (as well as being impressed that I'd managed to find it by myself after having gone out with so many other people so many times!).

Another thing that was great about this experience was the persistence and effort I put into looking for it pay off.
Not everything in life works out, and I'm definitely not a believer in the idea that everything (though many things, I would agree, do) happens for a reason. But definitely don't be afraid to persist in seeing your efforts to accomplish a goal through as much as you can. Whether it's finding a phone, applying to a college, program, or job, finishing a challenging project, or anything else, don't give up on your efforts and remain dedicated to your goals. I had resolved myself to probably never seeing that darn piece of plastic again, but I resolved that nonetheless, I would go back to look for it, just in case fortune would come through for me.
If I had given up completely and stopped looking for it, then I wouldn't have found it like I did, even though I might have passed right next to the spot where I dropped it. So don't give up, because you never know how close you are to a breakthrough in accomplishing something.

I'm sorry if this got overly cheesy, but I just wanted to share these thoughts.
I'm 100% not bashing social media; as I mentioned, I genuinely enjoy it and look at it as a positive force that fosters communication and interconnectedness among people in different places and of different beliefs. There are many friendships I never would have been able to form or maintain, and insightful or life-changing ideas that I never would have been exposed to (or at least it would have taken much longer) without social media. But I think in today's world people, myself included, do tend to get quite wrapped up in it at times, often to unhealthy extents. And I think that it is incredibly beneficial to all to balance things out and keep things in healthy moderation.

Suffice it to say that although it was a bit of a scary experience and I'm glad to have the phone back, I'm grateful for the perspective it provided me.

Take care and be well, everyone.

An incredibly beautiful music video to a calm and relaxing song, which was filmed here in Iceland. 

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