The Universe took my iphone

Posted on May 9, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Saturday around sunset I walked out to a pier on the Hudson river for a little peace and quiet. I was wearing baggy sweatpants and a hoodie, and had my phone in a loose pocket. The day had passed and I didn’t get to exercise so I decided I’d do a little self-guided yoga while the sun went down. Life has been a little hectic lately, but I was able to slow down, and center, and just as i was zeroing in on some kind of equilibrium…THWAP. Not really the thwap of a glass screen hitting the pavement, more actually a SCHWOOP…of say a vacuum cleaner sucking up broken glass.

I opened my eyes and reached for my phone and sure enough it was no longer in my pocket. No problem…the planks that make up this deck are not spaced far enough apart for the phone to have fallen through…EXCEPT…for the two planks directly beneath me, which happen to spaced such that if a phone fell at exactly the right angle, it could just barely clear the opening and reach the promised land of the Hudson River…and that…my friends…is exactly where my phone ended up on Saturday evening.

For a second my mind went to backups, and icloud restores, and all of the anxiety that comes with reduced access to a pure addiction…but strangely, rather than jumping into action to fix the problem, a wave of calm came over me instead. The fall through the cracks was a one in a million type occurrence…so improbable that I just chose to accept that universe was trying to tell me something…rather than rush home, or to the Apple store, or wherever you go to deal with a lost phone…I said fuck it, went back to my yoga practice, watched the rest of a beautiful sunset, walked to the grocery store, cooked a great meal for my wife, and chose to remember that life is pretty sweet without a supercomputer in your pocket.

The next day, I waited until after the gym to walk over to Apple and replace my phone. As I sat at the Setup table, waiting for icloud to restore my new device, i looked over the communal table at another guy, probably late 30s, wearing a yamaka, weird sweater, and glasses. He looked back at me at just the same moment. He too was waiting for his device to restore…and rather than just sitting there, in silence, watching a progress bar eek along, I decided to ask him about his life. I think what drove me to do it, beyond a general interest in talking to strangers, was a shared understanding that we both didn’t have phones to bury ourselves in while we waited. We had this pause, after making eye contact, which was like “have we really forgotten how to pass the time with other human beings because of these things that we’re sitting here waiting to restore from backup?” It was so obvious that in any other collective waiting scenario (think jury duty, flight delay, whatever) in present day, we would be choosing antisocial co-waiting via the very phones we were repairing. In this moment, the shared absence of our digital escape hatch bonded us, without a single word needing to be spoken, and so we started talking.

The conversation lasted about 20 minutes. I learned about his life growing up in queens, his pursuit of a rare branch of yoga called shadow yoga, and his time living in Israel. I shared a bit about traveling through India, my time living in Boston, and the decision to experience more than just New York City in my life. The normally deadening experience of waiting in an Apple Store became rich and interesting, and then…all of the sudden, my screen flickered, the apple load screen emerged, and bam, I had a perfect copy of my universe-snatched river phone replicated on this new device. I thanked the man for the conversation, threw the new phone in my pocket, and walked home without even a contemplation of connecting with him on Facebook or the like.

I’m not sure what the point of this story is exactly, except to say that life is pretty good without the likes, hearts, and texts. An evening is not ruined without connectivity. And real life surroundings and interactions with strangers can be as entertaining as Facebook videos if you choose to make them so. I don’t know if I was particularly in need of this mini-reminder from the universe…I don’t feel blinded by my phone addiction in general…but the yoga felt great, the dinner was delicious, the conversation was enriching, and the phoneless acceptance was freeing…perhaps a 24 hours worth the $700 it put me out.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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