Through an odd series of events, which I will expand on another time, I went from owning an iPhone 5s to an iPhone 6 to my current iPhone 5.
Before this rapid iPhone transition, I had stayed on the near-cutting edge of iPhone releases. I liked owning the newest thing out of Cupertino, and every time I got the upgrade, I would tell myself that this was the last one I needed for the next five years. However, it wouldn’t be more than six months, before I began imagining myself with the, then still rumored, next iPhone.
What a treadmill. It makes me somewhat sick to think about the amount of time that I’ve spent reading Apple rumor blogs, speculating about what my “next” thing was going to be. The line between tech enthusiasm and unhealthy consumer lusting became increasingly blurred.
So, you can imagine my surprise, as I upgraded, and then double-downgraded to the iPhone 5. At the time, in my mind, this setup would only be for a week, until I could get another iPhone 6. However, day after day, a week turned into four months.
How and why are fair questions to ask, and I’ve spent some time trying to figure out the answers. However, after stumbling back across Remy Labesque’s Aged to Perfection post, I realized why I was uncharacteristically OK with my current phone.
The Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi is the world view of embracing the wear and tear of everyday things — of finding beauty in the natural aging process. Wabi-sabi directly contradicts our yearly tech upgrade cycle, but in turn, it gives a unique, very natural sense of peace, as our things become increasingly battered.
My iPhone 5 reflects the experiences of a full life. Scratches on the back aluminum, dents along the chamfered edge, and a slight discoloration of the rear Apple logo serve as a permanent reminder of the life I’ve lived so far with this rectangular slab of glass in my pocket.
It may sound incredibly conceited or #FirstWorldProblem-ish for me to write that I can manage with “just” an iPhone 5, and I concede to that interpretation. However, with that concession, I’m going to use this opportunity to encourage you to take a moment and contemplate where your own line of consumerism / enthusiasm lies. If you can’t find it, there is a chance that you’ve merged both doctrines into one easily-defendable lifestyle, which reinforces itself with every upgrade. That was me, anyhow.
My iPhone will, eventually, have to be replaced. However, until then, I remain pleasantly surprised in the amount of joy I get from seeing the aesthetic imperfections. Joy that, mind you, far exceeds anything I’ve felt while peeling plastic film off a mint-condition device.
—Sunday, 25 January 2015