I lost my mobile phone several days ago. I say "lost", but what I actually mean is "was relieved of". Like all children, my wee boys love a phone. They'd rather have Daddy's phone than mine, what with his being an iPhone and mine being the same model used by Noah in the ark (see photo). But the advantage of owning a cheap and non-internet-enabled phone is that scratches and dribble and teeth-marks cause less of an problem than if the baby took a big expensive bite out of an Apple, so on the regular occasions when he wakes up at the crack of dawn, I lock the keypad and hand it over so he can entertain himself and I can sleep for a moment longer. And any gadget scores big points with Joshua, however low-tech. He's his father's son, and will therefore learn the art of technological discernment all in good time.
So I became vaguely aware at some point this week that I hadn't seen my phone for a few days, but by the time it might have occurred to me to call it in order to locate it, I'd forgotten all about it. This happens to me a lot. I go upstairs and can't remember why. I find shower gel in the fridge. I go to the corner shop and return home without the item I specifically required. But yesterday morning, just before saying goodbye to Ben, I had the unexpected presence of mind to remember the mislaid mobile and solicited his assistance in finding it. From his pocket he extracted a superior telephoning device, and rang my number whilst standing at the bottom of the stairs. A phone rang, loudly and clearly. It was obviously mere inches away from us both. I bent down to scrutinise the bookcase, within which it was evidently hiding. No sign of it was forthcoming. I peered behind the shelves. Nothing but dust was visible. I looked again on top of every single book on the bookcase, whilst still the ringing continued. Eventually Ben moved the unit, and lo! The missing item lay beneath the piece of furniture, alongside one of those entirely useless socket covers, which any reasonably dexterous child can easily prise from the wall in a matter of moments unless you preemptively Sellotape it down (thus rendering the socket both useless and undecorative). Peering at its smeared screen, I was grateful I'd remembered to get in touch when I did, because the battery was perilously low. Another day and it might have conked out altogether, which would have meant the phone languished beneath the bookcase either until I next pulled it out for vacuuming purposes, or until we next had occasion to move house, whichever happened first. The latter is discouragingly likely, so it could have been quite some years before the mobile and I were reunited.
Joshua had obviously got his hands on the phone and sent it sailing down the gap between the banisters and the wall, as he is often prone to doing because of the resultant and satisfying ski-like action of whichever item he has encouraged to travel from top to bottom of the house and land beneath a bookcase. Delighted though I am by his obvious aptitude for Physics (yet more evidence of his father's genetic dominance) and his keenness to carry out experiments regarding speed, distance and time, an unrecharged mobile phone perhaps wasn't the best choice of tool. Which is, I freely admit, entirely my own fault for never plugging the thing into a power supply until it is drawing its final, gasping breaths. Recharging is somewhat important if our technology is to work for us as it should. And I've clearly not learned my lesson since the last time my lack of commitment to recharging led to potential inconvenience, when the car broke down in Leeds and I was obliged to summon roadside assistance using a feebly underpowered mobile phone. It all turned out well in the end, but it easily might not have done, and all because I didn't recharge my battery.
You know exactly where this story is leading, don't you? I'm nothing if not predictable. But I'll say it anyway, because it's important.
If we don't recharge, we can become useless for purpose. And it matters that we're fit for purpose at least some of the time, for all sorts of reasons. Relative energy levels affect our enjoyment of life, our wherewithall to function and to make use of our gifts and skills as we might wish, and our inclination and opportunity to interact with others as we'd like, to whichever extent that might be. And just as smartphones seem to need recharging incredibly frequently in comparison with my antique and rarely-utilised Nokia, we all have a different capacity for energy and our ability to retain it. Recognising that regular recharging is necessary can be incredibly difficult when it so often feels self-indulgent and excessively luxurious instead of essential. Life is so busy with so many pressures. But whether it comprises a bubble bath or a cup of uninterrupted tea or a walk in the sunshine or a favourite film or a talk with a friend or an hour spent playing the piano, recharging has to happen when it's needed. Otherwise we run the risk of ending up like my poor neglected mobile phone: lying wearily on the floor with no prospect of being able to get through another day of doing what we each need and want to do. I find this concept as hard to accept and put into practice as the next person does, so I pass on these early-morning thoughts to you in a spirit of empathy and encouragement. Today I plan to sit on the beach and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine, which I know will revive me in body and mind, and if my grubby kitchen floor doesn't get mopped today, at least I might gain the energy to tackle it tomorrow as a result. I hope you, too, can take the opportunity to recharge yourself very soon. Have a lovely weekend!