I got the new iPhone today. Literally one day after mentioning that I’m happiest when I’m not on my phone. (Sigh.)
I’ve been wanting it for a while. Its camera is much better than the camera I had, and besides the fact that I take 10,000 photos of V a year (not exaggerating, there are literally 10,009 photos on my phone at this very second), this blog also came up in my list of reasons. I wrote about 75 of these 85 blogs on my phone while waiting for V to fall asleep. I use this device for writing way more than I use my computer. And, realistically, a promotion is coming for me in the next few months, and I will always need to be somewhat reachable. As much as I want to be able to do that with the Light Phone II, it’s just not realistic.
So I knew that I was always going to get the phone. I just kept telling myself Wait, wait, wait. Resisting temptation is actually something that I like to do. For one thing, it helps me save a lot of money, because most of the time, my desire wanes. But in the case that it doesn’t, waiting makes things more satisfying. And this particular game of waiting, of feeling the temptation and then resisting it, has been going on for about six weeks.
And then today, my friend Pam who works at the Apple store popped her head into my work and said, “I can use my friends and family discount on the new phone.”
Bam. Impulse too strong. I couldn’t wait anymore. An hour later, I held a shiny new orange phone in my hands.
At the total other end of the spectrum, two men came in today, one young and gawky and lean, and one plump and gruff and older, both with a weary look about them that revealed no pleasure in flicking through racks of clothes.
We found out after asking them a few questions that they’d just lost their house in the Woolsey Fire.
A coworker and I went up to them, told them we’d be extending a special discount to get them into what they needed, and we also gifted them with a pair of shorts, on us. The men were immensely grateful, and my coworker and I walked away crying.
The same exact thing happened yesterday; a woman came in who had been evacuated from her home, and had been kicked out of the hotel she was staying in because her kids had been too rowdy. She truly had nowhere to go and was living with her husband and two boys out of the back of her car. We helped her, and at the end of the transaction, I recognized her last name. It turned out she is the sister-in-law of someone I went to school with. Just one degree removed.
I don’t really know how these stories relate — the new iPhone, and the Woolsey fire. But when I think about them, I realize that one of these things contains the most hollow kind of happiness. (Yay! A new thing!) And the other brought about happiness and connection from being able to help, albeit in a small, nearly insignificant way.
Both of those experiences with the fire victims left me in tears. Not because I was grateful that we’d been spared from the fires. Not because I felt sorry for those people. But because I’d connected with them for a brief moment, and just for a split second, I sensed the edges of their pain. And that feeling made me feel alive, with all of the suffering and heartbreak and fleeting joy that being a human being contains.