My old flip phone is just about completely broken down. It’s almost completely broken today and it was on its last legs 13 days ago. Its capacity to hold a charge for a long, long time was why I chose it three years ago. Now it shuts down, battery exhausted, after I’m on the phone for 20 minutes, after having been charged only hours ago. I need a new phone.
I plan to write about Occupy Wall Street and some of what it all means to me. In the meantime though, in an honest, open showing my own internal human contradictions and inconsistencies–I will tell you the length to which I’ve gone and will still go– to get the newest iPhone. I don’t fundamentally think that loving and enjoying some things– some consumer goods– is necessarily in conflict with a stand on behalf of economic fairness and social justice. But mostly I really do. And the rub is we have a hard time facing that these things we “just happen to love”– are not freely chosen. We don’t actually “just happen to love” (say for example) Apple products. There’s not one iota of “just happen to” about it.
As I am fond of saying with a sympathetic smile, to mothers of children melting down at Target or the toy store– they (not the mothers and not the toddlers) do spend billions figuring out how to get us to want. Things. And in so doing they do get us to give up a little or a lot– on wanting what we really do want– fairness, community, peace, close connections, the creative flights of the mind, nature. A just and equitable and peaceful world.
I will spare you much more wordiness and get to the point. On September 30th– after our wonderful second day of Friday Rosh Hashana services– I went straight to the retail store of my cell phone carrier, looked half-heartedly at a few things and bought an iPhone. My first ever, first smart phone, too. I love it. The gorgeous and ingenious design– the amazement of a small thing I keep in my purse being able to do so many things. The I’m-really-cool factor.
It was early morning four days after I got it that I awoke to the radio broadcasting about the release of the next iPhone. I mulled it over, spent precious hours researching my options and talked to one of the nicest, most up front guys I’ve ever encountered on the help line of my wireless carrier. He told me exactly how I could still return my now “old” iPhone 4 and get the “new” 4s. In short I succumbed.
So tomorrow is the big day. My breakfast is in a small container in the fridge. My tote bag with paperwork, receipt, old phone and a book to read– all the at the door. My daughter, who has no school tomorrow has been coached. Tomorrow we get up early– really early together and head out to stand in line in the parking lot of my phone carrier. To get a shiny, even newer, phone.
Fortunately for all of us– later in the day she and my partner will go on to do something meaningful in a life. Camping. In autumn. Stars above at night and fall leaves and cook fire and friends. Something you cannot buy or return or even break. And as for me, my sister flies in to visit Isaac and we’ll all go to Shabbat services together. Where we will shut off our cellular devices and put our minds on the very same autumn, stars above, fall leaves and the hopes we have for ourselves and for daughters, sons, nieces and nephews.