I knew it was dead the moment I saw it.
The charger was connected. The lightning bolt was on. Still, the battery dripped away.
In a matter of minutes, my phone — an impossible combination of aluminum, copper, lithium cobalt oxide, and dozens of other raw materials which was designed by teams in California, assembled by workers in China, crammed through Q&A testing, shipped thousands of miles through the entire production process — became a paperweight.
Luckily, the cell phone’s issuer had a solution:
“Looks like you could be eligible for an upgrade. You could get a new one!”
And so it goes.
Companies plan obsolescence of products we obsessively consume, all to willing to toss aside the old model for the new one. All costs are paid by us but neatly tucked away so we don’t have to feel it for months or years or ever. Days like today I can’t help but wonder about the consequences of an relentlessly iterative society, one in which “good enough” is assumed a profanity.
Your life can be bigger! better! faster!
But only if you get the new version.
One day before the Dying Phone Dilemma, I ate lunch with my 90-something year-old grandmother.
After the meal, my wife and I helped decorate her tree. She chatted with us, swapping names of relatives interchangeably. Her stories are mostly 20 years old or more. This is not because she is nostalgic. It is because Alzheimer’s robs her of more recent events.
When the lights on the tree shined, so did she. A broad smile pressed the wrinkles on her face all the way to her chin.
“You don’t know how much this means to me”
I hope I remember the way her eyes stretched and crinkled when she looked at Kate. I hope I don’t forget her white hair bouncing as she nodded. I hope the memory of feet resting on the flower-spotted carpet stays with me forever.
There will be no new version of my grandmother.
Or anyone else in my life for that matter.
It is almost unfathomable most of my relationships will be a combination of all my actions and words towards these people over the next 50 years, the same people who I often am only available to when it is convenient to me.
Today, I will do better.
Today, I will remember people are really the only thing that matter.