A Day With No Screens
**DISCLAIMER: I don't claim to be an author nor an English teacher. There will be mispellings and some informal writing.
Cruisin down the boardwalk stretching across the Eastern side of Valencia, I look to my right at two young kids riding bikes. Without warning, one of the kids was stopped in his track and goes flying right into and almost over his handlebars as he failed to see the cement divider separating the two lanes of traffic. Why? How? Sadly enough, he wasn’t looking at the handful of pretty Spanish girls in Bikinis walking along the beach, but instead at the little 6 inch iPhone screen.
After that scene, and completing 197 pgs of the 325pg book “The Smarter Screen” by Shlomo Benartzi, I decided then and there that I would spend the following Sunday with NO SCREENS. At exactly 12:00pm that night, I would hand over my phone and close the laptop to live like my mom and dad used to.
The rest of the evening was spent on the beach with my Globekick friends: drinking beer, beachside massages, and a little SmashBall. (Watch the VIDEO HERE). With a dead phone already, we watched as the sunset fell over the beachline, and finished up our drinks at the beachside bar.
A quick trip home to freshen up, put a little juice on my phone for the last couple hours, and out the door I was. A few of us were meeting up at the Sushi restaurant just down the street from the ‘Frat House’ to continue our Saturday night on the town.
PHASE 1: That Night
Tic Toc, Tic Toc, as the time slowly snuck up on 12:00 am, and like some sort of grand countdown, we watched as the minutes turned into seconds. 12…there it happened... 12:01, so far so good. I didn’t spontaneously combust, or lose my mind yet. Much to the surprise of the group, there wasn’t any big fireworks or cheers, besides the one Dan, Zoe, Kristina, and I shared as we got ready for whatever the night brought our way.
I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that at this point in the night, and after drinking all day in the sun, I had a pretty good buzz going on. My phone found a home in the girl’s purse, where it would stay for the next 30 hours. As for this night, the ‘No Screen’ didn’t have too much effect, but THIS did. They call it the “Silent Room”…3 Stations, 3 Colors, and 1 set of noise canceling headphones per person.
7am rolled around, and after 4 hours of nonstop dancing, this little guy need some rest. Luckily my friends knew the way home, because without a GPS, even a short walk to the grocery store will send me into a maze of stops lights, street signs, and 4 way intersections that all look the same.
PHASE 2: The Non-Intoxicated Part
12:04PM…I made it half way there! I woke up that morning/afternoon, and it’s amazing the things I could do even half hungover when I don’t spend 1 hour on my phone first thing getting up. After smashing my head on the half open window getting out of bed, I slid some shoes on and was ready to take on the streets of Valencia sober and phoneless.
At this point running through my head was SNAPCHAT, and how much I enjoyed wandering the streets making mini stories for all 178 of LWL followers. At about this time is when I also had the idea for writing this blog post that I have been delaying for weeks. Whether or not it has been a waste of your time, I will leave up to you, but either way I’m happy to hear/fend off any comments.
Back to the day, it’s around 1pm at this time, and we’re wondering around the streets looking for some food, specifically Chinese food. We had one phone, but with a dead battery it wasn’t getting us too far. Armed with the jibberish instructions “Moon” gave us from the Sim card store across the street, we walked, and walked, and crawled some more searching high and low for this hidden gem. With no phone, it’s crazy the smallest details I was able to notice, from the dog who walked funny to the street signs (instead of my GPS screen) that I finally read for the first time since arriving in Valencia 1 week ago. Finally in the distance, and from Kristina’s faded memory, we spotted a little Thai restaurant across from a frozen yogurt stand.
I ate about half my food, partially because my stomach was still turned inside out from the night before, but mostly because I wanted to save room for some frozen yogurt.
It’s interesting where conversations went that day, whether sitting across from my friend or with a group of strangers at the frozen yogurt store, when the default of the conversation isn’t scrolling through Facebook videos on your phone. So again, thanks for your precious time.
All filed up with Udon Noodles and Chocolate yogurt, we hobbled through the streets full, smelling like a beer can, and sore from all the dancing. Stopping every few blocks to take a quick break on a park bench while watching dogs and little kids on their scooters. (Two things that there is no shortage of in Valencia). It’s around 4pm at this time, and as bad as I hate wasting a beautiful Sunday laying in my bed, I had to grab a little nap.
Forgetting my keys the night before, I buzzed into the Frat House where the roomies were cruising around on their labtops. This was the first time since I woke up that I had the urge to sit down on my computer or phone, to do…work? Look at Facebook Videos? I sat down on the couch and bullshited for a bit, where Nick kept trying to show me the new Globekick Video from the day before at the beach. I got a chance to look at it today, and it is pretty neat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58eNE0wjvGU
Siesta Time, 1 hour later which I was surprised how short I was able to make it since I had no alarm. I was in pretty desperate need of some ‘Me Time’ before a busy week ahead. So I threw on some Khakis and my L.I.V.I.N. T-shirt, loaded my bag with a book, 2 postcards, my journal, and a Frisbee, and once again was ready to tackle the city with no phone, but this time alone.
I set off on the look once again for somewhere good to eat. I had no particular direction or restaurant in mind, but was feeling something a little Western style. I came across a few signs advertising Burker King, and the big Whopper was looking pretty good, and since I managed to only have fast food 3 times in the past month and a half, I thought heck, why not.
I guess the sign with the Whopper on it, didn’t mean it was anywhere close by. After walking for almost an hour, I saw a little local style taco place. A mix between Pancheros and Taco Bell. A little restaurant with a max capacity of 12-15, and only people there was myself and the one worker. There was only 4 options on the menu; tacos, burritos, quasaddilas, and nachos grande. I chose the Burrito, grabbed my Diet Coke, and posted up in back where I spread out my 5 blank postcards, which I had picked up 3 more at the store on the way. Up to this point, I had only managed to write one postcard in Portugal, and if there was one thing I did on my day with no screen, this was without a doubt the one thing I was most proud of.
After dinner, I knew getting home was going to be a challenge as the sun was setting and after walking in circles for a few hours, my sense of direction was…well what sense of direction. After waving down a few people and asking them were “Rusafa” was (the neighborhood I live in), I was pointed in the right direction. Thinking about my evening walk so far, this was the first time I even though about my phone…It’s safe to say I need this crash course in “Navigating Valencia’. I knew I was in trouble, when I started seing some of the same building once, twice, and 3 different times. Normally when walkingalone I would have my earbuds in jamming out, or listening to some audible books, and I will say after today, that will no longer be my default.
It’s around 9pm at this time, and as I started to recognize a few more building as I got closer to home, I ran into Dan and Kristina on their way for some dinner. A quick hello and how are you, we parted in separate directions.
3 hours to go, and at this point I was able to finally train myself not to reach into my pocket every minute to check my phone. As the night faded away, I crawled into bed and knocked off a few pages of “300 Day of Sun”
A complicated morning, which consisted of me forgetting my computer charger at home, and my phone still tucked away in my friends purse, I sat down and started writing this journal in the Co-working space. Shortly after, one of the other Globekickers came in with the Charger I needed, and sadly enough, I had to turn my computer on and get to work.
If there was one thing I learned from my experience was that life goes on outside our 6 inch screens, and whether we choose to LIVE and interact with it is up to us.