The Phone Detox and my 29th Birthday

Note: I originally wrote an incomplete draft of this on paper on September 18th, my birthday, and today I am digitizing it and finishing it off.

Today marks my 29th birthday - the last birthday of my twenties!

I am now in Antalya in Turkey of all places. I came to Turkey from Berlin to attend Melissa's wedding, and tomorrow morning I fly out to Berlin again, then Canada the week after.

I have been alone today for my birthday, but don't you pity me. I'm having a glamorous day! What gives today its glamour for me isn't that I've done something crazy, but it's rather an unusual sense of contentment I felt throughout.

The norm for me if I were alone on my birthday as such is that I would feel depressed. I would feel lonely, pitying myself that I'm not surrounded by friends as everyone around me seems to be, and painfully reminding myself that I am lost in life, don't know what I'm doing, don't know why I'm moving around, and don't know what the future holds. My mind would be spinning and spiraling towards stress.

Yet, remarkably, this is not the case today despite having legitimate reasons to feel stressed. The AI consulting job I had spent weeks preparing for and anticipating fell apart unexpectedly a few days ago. Yet, that doesn't seem to occupy my mental space right now - nor anything else in particular, for that matter.

I decided last night that for my birthday I'll do a phone and internet detox, and what a wonder it has been!

I don't recall doing a phone detox before, but it's clear to me that it's something I should do regularly.

I woke up in the early morning for a beautiful stroll around the old city of Antalya. I used the paper map that my hotel gave me to figure out where to go. I must admit, I felt a bit of nostalgia. It's been almost a decade since I used a paper map for navigation. I felt like a little kid unleashing the explorer in him. I felt a lot more aware of my surroundings, unlike when I am mindlessly gluing my face to an electronic brick that's telling me where to go.

After the old city walk, I decided to head to the beach for a swim. I waited by the tram tracks, and started a conversation there with an old Turkish man powered by sign language. Because I didn't have my phone, I wasn't sure when the tram was going to come, or how long does it take to get to the beach. That was a great reason to start communicating with this man, and with the help of sign language he told me that the beach is only a 20-minute walk away. I decided to do the walk.

It actually took me more than 45 minutes to get to the beach, and that's because I wandered around aimlessly and passionately - like a little kid exploring a candy store. I found a small hidden bridge on the way to the beach that lead to a beautiful sinkhole with sparkling turquoise waters. The parks by the coast were delightful, and I stopped in one of them at the top of a mountain overlooking the beach for a lengthy breakfast. Between reading, eating, and enjoying the view, breakfast took well over an hour.

I then moved to the beach for what ended up being a majestic swim. I love the water in Antalya - an intertwine of cold and hot currents. I swam what likely was the longest swim that I've ever done without breaks (1 mile maybe?). After relaxing on the beach for a bit longer and reading, I decided to hit up the Antalya museum, which asking around, turns out that it was just around the corner.

Earlier in the day I had started to read "Sapiens", a book on the history of humanity. It discussed the different types of humans that have roamed the Earth in prehistoric times and how they differed from homo sapiens - us.

Luckily, the Antalya museum had some artifacts and remains of homo neanderthals. It was super interesting to read about them and see them on the same day.

After some lovely meals before and after the museum, I went for a Turkish Hamman and massage - highly recommend it for anyone visiting Turkey. It was certainly a lot better than my terrible Moroccan Hammam experience.

What was most visible to me throughout that day was the mental clarity I had. My attention span wasn't littered with notifications every other minute, and I ended up communicating and interacting more with the people and environment around me a lot more so than usual.

My Turkey trip made it so obvious to me how our phones can really dominate us and hack our attention span and mental clarity, and detoxing from it regularly is the first step I'll be doing to gain grounds in getting back my cognitive and mental space.

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