I Deleted The Doctor

Oh no, not That Doctor.

And not my friendly family practitioner.

The doctor I deleted was a knockoff of Doctor Mario – a free game I downloaded on my iPhone maybe a month ago, one snowy cold Minnesota Sunday when I thought, hey, I wonder if there are any Doctor Mario games I can download for free on my newly acquired iPhone 3gs? (Doctor Mario was my favorite video game back in my college days – it’s something like Tetris.)

And sure enough, there was one.

Thus began my addiction.

I played it to “de-stress.” I played it on Sundays, while the rest of the family played Xbox. I played it in the evenings after the kids went to bed. I played it in the evenings while dinner was cooking. I played it in the evenings after dinner while the kids did their clean-up chores. I played it on Saturdays. I played it while the kids would ask me if I wanted to play with them. Usually I’d put it down then, but not always.

These are the confessions of an addict.

I knew I needed to quit. Heck, I knew I should never have started. When Nathan inherited and fixed a broken Xbox and asked me about my interest level, I said, don’t get me started. I hadn’t played a video game in years, and for good reason. I get addicted.

This past weekend I went on personal retreat. Of course I had my phone with me. No, I did not play – or even feel tempted to play – “my game” during the whole weekend (I would have drained the battery and there was no electricity in my hermitage!). I read some books that renewed my inspiration to live generously, slowly, meaningfully (The Windows of Brimnes by Bill Holm, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren).

I came home truly de-stressed, and eager to live more intentionally, more present to the people around me in each moment.

And I succeeded, for maybe ten minutes! I hugged my family, played a card game with a friend’s daughter who was visiting; and then when the kids went in the other room to play some Xbox together, I went for my fix with the Doctor.

It was my last fix, though. That evening as I reflected over the day, remembering my kids seeing me pull out my phone and saying, “oh, you’re playing your game again aren’t you?” – and not in a joyous, “good-for-you” tone – I decided to delete the Doctor.

Clicking that little “x” felt great.

Now I’ve decided that a “de-stressing” activity should be something that is ultimately good for me – like exercise, or good food, a conversation with a friend, playing music, taking a power nap or curling up with a good book, catching up on the blogs I follow, or even watching an episode of The Doctor – the one I would never delete!

I know, I can always download the other Doctor again. But I’ll have myself, my family, and the expansive life of my dreams to answer to.


  1. Thank you, Julia. I’m always excited to read your blog when it appears in my email inbox, but your thoughts today have reminded me to continue on my path to live mindfully & to be present when I’m around other human beings. πŸ™‚ I recently purchased an iPad Mini & have been struggling with my own addictive tendencies. Although Dan reminds me that it’s a new toy & that it’s natural to want to enjoy it, I struggle with my feelings of guilt when I see the faces of those around me who wish to connect with me. I’m also reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” and am learning to open my heart to more of what truly matters.

    • Thanks for your comment, Karen! There is definitely a balance for each of us to find, between enjoying our toys and spending time with others. Some people are good at enjoying toys while spending time with others (Nathan has a rule for himself that he will only play video games with other people, never alone) – but some of us do enjoy our alone time!

      I’m trying to figure out how to get more “play” in my life without further alienating myself from others. I don’t regret going through my video game debacle – I learned from it, and although it swung to an unhealthy extreme, it did arise from my quest to have more fun in life! But when it started being more addictive than fun, it was time to quit.

  2. Just read this… Oh that we could all be so transparent and intentional about managing our addictions – be they “big” or “small, “socially acceptable” or “societal scourges.”
    You, my daughter, continue to encourage me, refresh me and stimulate me to engage real life. I’d love you anyway but your transparency about your own struggle to engage authentic life beyond religion, politics, infrastructure, expectations, etc., continually deepens the winsomeness of your spirit.
    Thanks for once again sharing a little slice of your life with the world today. It has brought a little light to yet another otherwise cloudy, dismal day.

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