So yesterday I was working away when my cell rang. Mom was on the other end, worried because she had been calling the house and not getting an answer. It was then that I discovered the cable modem had malfunctioned and none of my phones worked. It occurred to me that I should have known something was wrong–I had worked all morning in blessed silence–no telemarketers interrupting my thoughts.
I’m working now on a biographical novel of Mrs. Robert E Lee that covers the years from 1830 to 1860. No phones back then, and so I have access to many of her letters, journal entries and even some of her recipes written in her own hand. All of which would not exist if she and the General had been able to stay in touch by phone while he was away. Not that I would want to give up my phones. I’m thankful for all the good purposes they serve–instantly summoning help when we call 911–staying in touch with friends and family in real time. And now, with my smart phone, I have the ability to snap a picture on a moment’s notice. Though I don’t generally do selfies. But phones have become a weapon of destruction, thanks to drivers who try to text, talk, and operate a 6000 pound vehicle all at the same time.
Last month here in San Antonio, a new city ordinance went into effect, prohibiting drivers from using cell phones while behind the wheel. No exceptions. In the first month of enforcement they handed out over 1000 traffic citations, at $200 each, to drivers caught talking or texting while driving. It’s a good rule and one I hope they will continue to enforce.
I’ve been thinking about Alexander Graham Bell, the man who first gave us the telephone. I can’t help wondering what he would think of the way his invention has evolved.I’ve decided that tomorrow, I’m going to turn off my phones while I’m writing. Thanks to that malfunctioning modem, I’ve rediscovered the marvelous beauty of silence.