Steve Jobs would not recognize his iPhone?
It’s a constant companion...and more about how we don’t pay attention to our world, which is suffering. iPhones or Androids we are an epidemic and we are addicted ...and not a good one to better our lives and health or our world.
Today in the New York Times, Cal Newport, a computer scientist who comments on how technology is affecting our culture, says “Mr. Jobs seemed to understand the iPhone as something that would help us with a small number of activities — listening to music, placing calls, generating directions. He didn’t seek to radically change the rhythm of users’ daily lives. He simply wanted to take experiences we already found important and make them better. The minimalist vision for the iPhone he offered in 2007 is unrecognizable today — and that’s a shame.”
He says, “the “constant companion model”... model changes what we pay attention to in the first place — often in ways designed to benefit the stock price of attention-economy conglomerates, not our satisfaction and well-being.”
He goes on to say that, ‘Many of us would be better off returning to his original minimalist vision for our phones.”
We live in a distracted culture...and it’s harming our world.
For sure. Our phones are like fire, they can destroy the important opportunities of the moment in front of you, or they can enhance it. They may even be another epidemic level dopamine addiction...as the neuroscientists have found.
I agree with Cal on this. Is how I use my phone enhancing my life and the lives of others or not? It’s an important question for us all.
As a hospice chaplain, I am awake to opportunities for a good end in this ultimate mystery (and accounting). Death keeps time and can elevate our constant companion and its “To do list”. It is about the ‘mindful’ or heart-full appreciation of the moment in front of us.
How I use my phone:
iPhone transporter in sound meditations -
I can take you to the woods to experience birds at dawn or a camp fire without anyone getting a mosquito bite or having accessibility issues.
Direct YouTube Spiritual support from the patient’s own clergy - Pastor, Priest, Guru, Mullah, Minister, etc
It is all there on the Internet. It is a daily miracle. I ‘performed' a full Catholic Mass for a woman who was actively dying and by all earthly measures not responsive. With my iPhone and Bose bluetooth speaker, I gave her a full hour and a half mass that rocked the assisted living facility. Knowing she was a devout Catholic, I could see it on her face that she was calmed. Her family was, too, and appreciated the respect I showed their beliefs. It is my job, but the iPhone is real miracle.
By the way, being a hospice chaplain, is not about changing anyone. I am not on a mission to force another’s version of the Divine under the wire of life and overwrite the patient’s own lively preferences. I offer their own faith back to them...Okay...maybe I weight providence and love in the self-reflective mirror. But it is their mirror.
Time traveling at bedside.
Taking patients back to their adolescent days with top popular tunes from their past - I can sit with a patient that is infirm, or even a dementia patient who no longer recognizes his or her own adult children, and have a conversation with them about their own childhood or simply bring a smile to their (previously gesture-less) face. Music happens like that.
Playlists as re-centering play
I use my own phone to make play lists of songs that lift me up; it is self care. Some songs have become inadvertent matras to me. I play them in the car on my way home (oh, the S.F. Bay Areas traffic....) I am better for it when I arrive. Music has the deep ability to take us up, or get us to calm down... or allow us to glimpse a world beyond the separations of our own skin into the greater world.
Learning by listening
Audible and the Kindle Fire’s ability to do Text to Speech has changed the size of my world. Hey, I am a slow reader. I usually fall asleep reading a paper book. I like the experiential (as in creating stuff). I have recently discovered a grand ability to remember and uptake creative and factual information when it is given aurally. (I was always really good in classrooms- who knew I learned by hearing so much better.)
Human and Unique. The Time is Now. ‘Be here Now’... with effective self- care
Or perhaps my parents were too distracted to read to me as a child...(I think most of us suffer from having merely human parents. Yes?) What is important now is that I take care of my life in a kind and loving way. This is caregiving too. It is sustainable caregiving as in a golden rule cycling round.
Don’t Get Lost
Waze, the navigation app that Google purchased a few years back left them oddly with their independence, too, is still here and legendary. It gets me there. It avoids traffic, adjusts to crashes, notes within seconds where the highway patrol are camping, even has red light camera alerts. It is way better than Apple or Google maps. (You just have to turn off all the little noisy icons you don’t want)
I would be handicapped in finding my way to patients if I did not have it. I don’t even want to think about that (NOTE: denial is sometimes a good thing.)
How do YOU use your phone ?...Does it make your world a more caring and loving place?
Because isn’t that what we are here to do?
’Steve Jobs Never Wanted Us to Use Our iPhones Like This’ By Cal Newport - NYT 1/27/2019
NOTE: Death Cafe on the 30th of January at SF Unity is closed to more RSVPS.
Stay tuned for more dates. Thank you.
What happens in a Death Cafe?
It's a question....or it is THE question...a useful an open ended question.
The Death Cafe organizers have rules. The lack of an agenda is listed on their website as practically sacrament or in the hushed tones I might use in a cathedral. That means each death cafe is different. Hosts never know how it will be. It depends on who shows up and that consistently varies. The one I recently attended in San Francisco was modeled by hosts who looked full of joyful anticipation...almost amusement at the surprise about to unfold.
Safe, Sacred and Secular...
In this one, there were the usual beginning bits when thoughtful strangers meet to talk about deeper subjects. Such as those of confidentiality, and the polite commonalities of etiquette, which are mostly covered in the golden rule. There was a grounded opening of the reading of a poem, followed by a moment of silence. The check-in was short, set the tone for the evening, and started to hint at what subject matter was on the individual hearts in attendance. I watched many in the group quietly called to nods of silent concurrence.
These polite beginnings of many moved into the voiced frustrations with the aches and illnesses of living to such a ripeness that most humans of history would marvel. In my check-in, I quoted Ram Dass, in one of my favorite instantly resonating wisdoms, "We are all just walking each other home..." Home relating to the great mystery of our endings, which we are here this evening to become more familiar.
Shedding Snake Skins
A memorable elder lifted up the idea of shedding our 'skins' in that he had shed so many identities just like a snake in growing larger. I feel that way too, though I did not say it. There was a lot of quiet agreement in this Death Cafe. It is easy to resonate with a thought, previously only in my head but never voiced, which are then spoken-out-loud but not by me (or is that you). Attendance is largely about becoming intimate with these human commonalities, which our culture largely avoids and goes to great expense to ignore. It makes us less authentic... and smaller.
"How people die remains in the memory of those who live on."
– Dame Cicely Saunders (1918 - 2005) founder of the modern hospice movement
Why do we live our lives as if we were immortal?
These blinders on experiencing our 'others' endings, as they naturally occur within our lifespan increases the fear factor for our own experience of a good end. However, this gathering stands in opposition to that norm. There is an odd curiosity and joy here for a life examined...
Curiously, I felt very alive that evening...and for the next few days. Life seemed a little more clear... and dear. For me, that was a good-enough reason to attend. It added to my resilience cistern...or at least my perspective.
There is something very important here. If we actually own that we do not have all the time we might want, then we will be much more open to intensifying our efforts to save the world...or live our own lives to optimize satisfaction we might feel at our own surprise ending.
An Arab-Berber immigrant to France from the Maghreb region (around Algeria) in northwestern Africa, Hassen Bouchakour, became the several times world champion in artistic dressage. He brought his culture's appreciation and respect of the sick and elderly.
He is now demonstrating that culture of kindness in ways that align with his talent and purpose. He is uniquely reminding France and the International community of a higher road for our infirm. It is this mirroring and renewing gift of the immigrant that brings us back to our principles...and our principles back to us...
Because of a loss of someone dear to him, Hassen began training his award winning stallion, Peyo, to control his balance on slick floors, to "make is needs on order" (aka potty trained...) and to get used to a whole lot of noise. According to an article written by Clémentine Mercier, a journalist from Quest-France, Hassen's goal is to make people understand that just because we get ill or old, we should not be abandoned.
"We must not forget that there is always a heart that beats." - Hassen Bouchakour
Hassen and the big stallion walk through the halls of hospitals and care homes together tending the sick, lifting morale and more. The horse is at home, rides the elevators, makes sharp turns in the corridors and is allowed to choose which rooms to go into.
Many of us have heard of equine therapy...
Horse therapy is where relatively able people go to a ranch or stable and interact with horses. It, like pet therapy, is effective for lowering blood pressure/heart rates, alleviating stress, and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
"Dr. Peyo", as many call the horse, and Hassen walk the halls of an elderly care home facility twice a month. The man and rider are in constant touch and connection with each other. The imposing horse brings a mysterious connection (or perhaps a re-connection) to the ill and frail. It seems to be reminding us of something pure and untouched in our own natures, which time and living tends to push aside. The horse is given reign to choose which room to go into, after a strict protocol of sterile preparation of fur, hooves, mane etc. Peyo always makes a connection with the patients. Their reactions are unexpected and hard not to describe as pure magic.
"We must not seek explanations for everything." Dr. Marie Lombard, Geriatrician
Hassen makes the point that " Peyo is not Lourdes..." but the transformation of patients that is seen by caregivers is miraculous. People are moved to awe, to appreciation, and to some new level of wonder.
Nature as a healing force
As a chaplain, I see how nature and references to the natural world at bedside are a consistent healing force of remembering something from our original natures or something untouched and pure.
I can see how the imposing yet quiet power, and grace, watching from above, of this beautiful horse's head, a healthy person might be moved. But for those who are experiencing a tender human valley of illness and decline might be change.
According to Elements of Behavioral Health, Equine therapy has many documented benefits:
Here is a video in English...
Check out this video to see Peyo and Hassen in action.
You can see the one re-made into English on my Facebook page.
The following two videos are in French but shows more of the horses's interaction with the patients and a bit of the hygenic preparation they require before the horse is allowed into the skilled nursing facility.
Can you imagine this ever happening in a SNF in the States? I would appreciate that miracle.
on a Chaplain's life