When I worked in the art business, I talked on the telephone constantly. So much for the glamorous life! Who knew that cauliflower ear was an occupational hazard for art dealers?
But I was moving and shaking, baby! I needed to be on that phone. I couldn’t be disconnected! My phone defined my life.
I recently read a study suggesting that our iPhones have become extensions of ourselves. When separated from them, we get anxious; our heart rates increase, our blood pressure soars, and we get all antsy.
That was me.
But I finally did disconnect when I left the art world and moved to France to focus on my creativity. There, I still found it difficult to stop checking my phone, but I soon realized it kept giving me the same answer: radio silence.
For someone who’d made a living from talking to people, it was strange to find myself with no one to talk to. But my days of wheeling and dealing with gallerists and collectors were over. And without the phone at my ear, I was forced for the first time to listen to my own thoughts.
Eventually, I would hang up my phone and learn to embrace the peace of living alone in the French countryside. And this is how I fell in love with the sound of silence.
Today, with my return to civilization, people expect me to be married to my phone again. They get alarmed when it takes me a few days to notice a text or check my messages. I constantly leave my phone at home and don’t even notice.
I understand that it’s time for me to connect now. I have responsibilities and decisions and deadlines. We live in a dangerous world and phones can help us stay safe. But my feelings about the telephone have remained on hold. I can’t bring myself to start jumping at its ring again, or allow it to sabotage my attention.
We don’t define artists by their tools, for tools are only there to serve the message. Art is communication. And real communication comes from the heart.
That’s the only call I want to answer.