June 7: #16 Have at least 3 actual phone conversations (**use your phone as a phone only?)
June 8, 2017
Phil: I’ll admit I dreaded this challenge from the moment I read it. I was thinking about ways to cheat this, or to ignore it altogether, from the outset. But I knew that cheating this challenge thing didn’t get me any personal victories. Cheating this was only cheating myself. It’s weird. By having zero accountability on this thing, I actually own all the accountability. What a weird and awesome paradox. So I tried to ignore this challenge today and not flip out over it. Even despite trying to pre-plan who I’d call. But the calls I DID make ended up coming naturally and being super awesome. The first one, I’ll admit, was a cheat of some sort. But it also wasn’t! I was behind on updating this very website, and my computer had died. So I called Bruce himself. It went to voicemail, which was a relief to me. OFF THE HOOK! But he called back and we had a three minute conversation that we literally never had before. I have never called this person before in my life but I’ve known him for years. That stupid three minute banter made our friendship something different to me, somehow. It’s hilarious. Anyway...then the rest of the day went on and I thought...that’s it. I tried. No more calls for me. But then i realized I am in the process of drafting my very first book proposal and I did promise some “sources” I’d give them a call to hash out my book idea. So I called my buddy Paul from my old stomping grounds of Queens and spoke, man to man, about my book proposal, and gained some super valuable insight on the project. Call two, CHECK. Call three, I was at a loss. NOW WHAT? I remembered back to my early 20s, when my buddy Adam would call me. “Just calling to call!” he would always say in his voicemails. (I’d always miss the call, because, like I realized today, nobody calls anyone anymore!) So I thought, I haven’t caught up with him in a while. He lives so close to me now, but we still seem distant. Let me call Adam, just to call. So I call...he picks up...immediately hangs up. I think...well, damn. There goes that. Then he texts me. He tells me his phone was providing the music at the bar he was tending at, and he had to end the call. That bar is walking distance to my apartment, so I thought, let me go there and see how he’s doing. Even better than a phone call. I walked over, had a drink and caught up with my friend. When they closed, I was vibing hard on the events of the night, and hit another bar nearby. Turns out Adam hit that bar too after his shift, so I got some overtime friend time. And as for bonus points...I spent the whole day bitching about calling people that I struck up conversations with other friends thought...you guessed it...texting. Now I’m home. Those three phone calls became more consequential with each passing one. I’m still terrified about calling people...especially these days...but I now realize just how much the simplest call can change your entire day. Challenge wins again.
Bruce: Today's challenge received very polarizing reactions. I have some friends who were telling me that they are almost constantly on the phone when they're in their car with the option of Bluetooth and then I have people (Phil included as I'm sure he will tell you) who were mortified by the prospect of it altogether. . It is funny that we are so caught up in our phones but that we don't ever use them as phones most of the time and we get some form of absurd anxiety at the thought of phone calls many of us. It also occurred to me that it is a sign of the times that many of these "challenges" and prompts to change life up are centered around reconnecting with one another in more intimate ways or disengaging more from technology. I myself am of the breed that I'm not necessarily intimidated by phone calls unless it is something business related and often while touring I will take it vantage of the Bluetooth in my car returning my car into a giant phone booth and allowing me hands free access to catch up with people and just feel less alone on long isolated drives! I did this for several hours on thanksgiving this past autumn and just called everyone in my phone and talking with anyone who would answer! I think some of the anxiety about phone calls stems from our inability to converse fluidly these days as the cultural Zeitgeist orbits around interpersonal interactions less and less and more in the paradoxical isolated illusion of connectedness that social media perpetuates. Sometimes I don't answer calls because I think it will take longer than I have time for and I think I've almost always found that I can achieve more in a phone call as far as an exchange of information that I can get all day through text in a matter of minutes. Today afforded me the opportunity to catch up with my Grandma, talk with Phil for a hilarious spell (I think he was using me as a non-threatening warm-up), talk to Owen “Drent” my rapper buddy from Rhode Island (which resulted also in potential tour plans) and my rapper/artist/musician friend Miggs to find out about him coming to town to perform. I also left a handful of voicemails as well for people, I do enjoy texting as a convenient opportunity for multitasking throughout the day and making plans where a phone call would not be appropriate, but phone calls always add a more human element and once you can adjust to the difference in pacing and the immediacy that doesn't exist in text message there is so much more emotion and humanity in those interactions. This was not necessarily a "challenge" for me but it was a good opportunity for sure. Reconnect!