In these first days of sifting, the social media fast is proving to be hard. Really hard. Hard like when you were a kid riding your Schwinn and you took a bad spill on the sidewalk. The kind of hard that hurts, but hopefully doesn’t leave a scar.
I’m going to be honest with you here. The anxiety was high as I deleted the Facebook app off my phone on Friday, at 5:00 p.m. High as in, I had to sit down for a second and the room spun and I felt all hot and troubled inside. Symptoms of withdraw from a gripping addiction I didn’t realize was there. I wanted to cry a little. Chewed my nails down to bits. My heart was definitely fluttering at an accelerated rate and my chest tightened and squeezed my panicky lungs.
I knew this would be hard. I did. But I did not expect to have actual physical symptoms.
Not thirty minutes after deleting my social media apps, the first very desperate urge came to pick the phone up and… just check. If I do it fast it doesn’t count, I decided. So I grabbed my phone, swept my thumb across the screen and to my horror, the FB app was gone. I had already forgotten that I had deleted the app only thirty minutes earlier. Must have been so traumatic that I blocked out the memory. Or this swipe had become such a ritualistic rhythm within my day that it had become something I did without thinking. Like breathing.
Desperate for something physical to fill this new uncomfortable void, I picked up my violin. The violin I have wanted to play since I was eight years old. The violin that was denied me in fourth grade because I was “a good fit for the cello,”and so I joined choir instead. The violin that has forever eluded me.
I picked up that violin in the absence of my phone. One month ago I began taking lessons as a means to satisfy my childhood hunger, but practice time has been hard to secure with so many distractions. Time is a gift. A gift we too easily toss out unaware of its value. A gift we sometimes even say we want to “kill.” Imagine that.
I slid my bow slowly across the strings and turned out something deep and mournful. And let’s be real, it was mournful in another way for everyone in the house because I’m still a bit of a squeaker on this thing, and I’m pretty sure it all sounds way better in my head than what’s actually rolling off the strings. But it felt really good. And in fact, I was feeling more and more good the more I played. The vibrations seemed connected to me, rooted in me, reaching down deep, giving voice to my insides in a way words could not.
This was my social media funeral song.
And then, right there in that moment, I just decided. Decided that this is going to be my thing. I am going to master this instrument. And so I exchanged silent vows with my violin. A commitment for daily one on one time with this new love of mine. During the scattered moments of space in my day, rather than reach for my phone, I’m going to secure this violin under my chin, lift my bow and make it come alive. And in the doing of this, some part of me will come alive too.
I’m going to become a Jedi of the strings. I’m telling you, I will do this. In some of the new space of my days, as the clutter is increasingly gone, there will be this beauty always beside me and within me and before me. Ever present, reminding me to make good on my promise and good on my time.
I suddenly want to know everything about the violin. It’s curves and hollow spots and vibrations. I want to be lured in on intimate terms, breathlessly tracing my fingers over its edges to endless discovery. I want to know its history and how it has come to be refined to the wondrous and whimsical instrument it is. I want to spin out silk ribbons of sound on this thing in a way that sends sweet warm tremors up and down everyone’s spine. I want even the plants in my house to feel it and sway and swoon and ache for it in their bones when it isn’t there.
In these first days of sifting, I have decided the violin is a thing worth giving a deeper piece of my time to. I have wanted to learn forever, but have never had the time. Some say I’m too old to take this on. Fiddlesticks. I will learn to knead this delicacy into expressing all the feels that move inside me, and it will be a lovely thing in the world. And it will be a lovely thing in me.
And now it has me wondering… what would happen if the whole world put their phones away and picked up an instrument instead? What would happen if we all laid down our hatred and divisions, our running and scrambling and maintaining that top inch of soil, our need to be the most right and to have the biggest closets and the very best cars and the most sensational everything all the time and to climb and climb and climb that ladder that ultimately leads to dust. Dust. What if we would let go of more of the dust and learn to make beautiful music instead? Music that could be drawn out from all our deep places and speak our truths and coalesce into a great global symphony?
I bet it would be pretty spectacular. I bet it would be really special. I bet even the soils of the earth would sing if everyone could find their thing and make it come alive.
What have you always wanted to give more time to? What makes you come alive?