The fine people at the Apple Corporation decided to include in a recent software update a feature for tracking my screen time.
Each week I receive a notification that tells me the average amount of time I am on my phone each day and the percentage increase or decrease from the previous week.
I did not request this feature but I also haven’t gotten around to disabling it. The times it reports a decrease in my screen time give me a shot of satisfaction and I’m motivated to turn that into a trend.
This week’s poem, by Wendell Berry, underscores just how important that is, not just for an artistic or creative life, but for a fully realized human life.
HOW TO BE A POET
(to remind myself)
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.