I went to Cuba for the second time this past August. The first time I went was a year and a half before that, for ten days. This time I booked a month long trip. I was very excited to go back, not only because I feel like I didn’t do enough exploring the last time I went, and I subsequently spent much time trying to get a connection on my phone at a five star hotel, trying to get a wire, because I extremely underestimated how much money I would need. As most know, Cuba and internet service aren’t the best of friends. I was paying 14 Euro for two hours of really shitty (slow) internet service at one of Havana’s most prestigious hotels. It was hard to judge how much money I was spending on internet versus my time being spent efficiently trying to figure out how I was gonna get a wire sent to me. I probably spent a good five days worth of money for food on internet service. I spent way too much time trying to get a wire and not enough time BEING in Cuba. I promised myself the next time I went, I would take more than enough money. Funny enough, I ended up missing my flight the second time around and I was stranded in Cuba with not enough money to pay for another flight, and spent some time getting another wire. That’s not the point of this story, though.
The point is, I had plans for my second trip. Between the two trips I met a Cuban DJ and producer in New York at a music festival and we eventually made plans to collaborate when I went to Cuba. I downloaded all the musical ideas I wanted to work on in my phone, just because it was so much easier than taking a hard drive. I was really excited to be working on these specific ideas in Cuba, with this specific producer.
As luck would bless me, in the first few hours in Cuba I lost my phone. There is nothing like the feeling of losing your phone… IN CUBA. First I shrugged it off because I thought I would eventually find it. Then I started playing out the cab scene from the airport to where I was staying and pondering about whether or not it got stolen. That feeling of not knowing whether you lost your phone or if it was stolen was probably one of the most uneasy feelings. HOW DID I NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MY PHONE?! I feel like we almost take it for granted that there is an unspoken magnetism between us and our phones. We are so dependent on them, constantly checking them… and you start to realize how the action of checking your phone is so subconscious that it’s really hard to picture the last time you had it in your hand, nevermind the fact that it just slipped through the cracks of your fingers without realizing.
After a solid week of going through phone withdrawal and not being able to satisfy my high by going to the nearest Verizon store and picking up a new phone, and going through the agony of having to recreate my music ideas from memory, and not having a camera, or an easier time connecting to the internet, or having any means of communication at all….. a beautiful thing happened. Actually, many beautiful things happened, and that is because I suddenly wasn’t trapped by the confines of a screen, of a clock, of a camera, of the internet, of music ideas, of anything. It turned into the perfect opportunity to unplug myself, and finally live the life that I wanted to live for this next month.
The consequences became positively clear. Yes, there were many downfalls, all of them mentioned, plus that infamous phantom ring in my front pocket kicked in. But I surrendered to the idea of not having a phone and life began to unfold in a different way, because of the different set of circumstances that present themselves when you have to TALK to people. It forced me to be social, to ask for directions, to go to a bar, to walk around and respond when talked to, to not have a screen between me and the world, ever. Subsequently, I made some really cool friends and made music I never thought I would make. It was a pleasant surprise to be reminded that not having a phone didn’t cripple me at all, and in fact, it helped me spread my wings even wider. It made me be in the moment and only think about what is exactly in front of me. I didn’t have all these access decisions to make about who I spent time with, or making plans, or buying shit I don’t need on ebay, or take part in any social media of any kind. I was only where I needed to be, which is where I always was.