That One Time
That One Time I Lost My Phone in Cozumel
While on board my cruise ship, 40 minutes before it departed from the port, I tracked my iPhone to the heart of downtown Cozumel, Mexico. Having just come from that area, I knew that if I booked it, I could find my phone and make it back before the ship sailed. I grabbed 40 dollars, my ship card, and my passport and slipped on my running shoes. Before leaving my cabin, I glanced at my iPad to track my phone’s exact location. I watched as it glided smoothly away from the city. It was over before it even started. To my surprise, I felt relief.
Like most people, my phone was an extension of my hand. So, it was nice to be free of the attachment and ability to: constantly check my calendar, consume media, respond to every text and email, post about how much fun I was having, allow others to see where I was at all times, and allow mega companies to sell my data. My iPhone being stolen was a relief, a prayer answered.
I sat with this relief until I realized that I would need to call an Uber to take my family to the Miami airport after we docked. Then, the panic set in. How would I keep track of all the medical school events? Would I truly be able to sleep without something playing in the background? How would I listen to music? How would I drive myself back to Roanoke? The iPhone combined a calendar, navigation, an iPod, and a companion. On that silent night at sea, I played these situations over in my head. I realized I should have used my Apple Watch regularly and left my phone in the car. Suddenly, I remembered I had an old iPhone at home.
The next day at sea, as I sat without Wi-Fi, I recalled all the opportunities I had to trade in the old iPhone for a few hundred dollars. As I was only studying for the MCAT at the time, I needed the money. However, every time I thought about trading it in, I felt resistance. I had some horrible choice of words for myself for failing to meet the trade-in deadline for Apple. Now, as relief rushed through me knowing that I had a crappy old iPhone—just what I needed—I realized that my previous perceived shortcoming helped answer my current prayers. I marveled at how much I actually needed to let go and let the universe have its way. Still, it is hard to trust forces of the universe that I cannot see. It is also difficult to gauge internal resistances and identify them as either laziness or something greater. The only way I can understand the balance of how to live life is through my experiences of skiing.
When I learned to ski, sliding down a hill was truly petrifying. Letting go and trusting a force that I could not control was terrifying. When on a steep hill, allowing myself to slide is still the hardest part of the experience. However, in time, I learned how to maneuver around the force of gravity. I learned how to use my toes to guide my skis and to relax if I slipped. Here lies the true test for me: If I panic when I slip a little or go faster than I want, I will surely fall. Often these little slips propel me faster than I am comfortable, so I need to perfect my form. Ultimately, the unintentional slips strengthen my skill. My true fascination with skiing lies in those moments of slipping. They give me the opportunity to reprogram my brain to stay calm by exhaling. In those small, almost invisible moments, I choose to make the ultimate choice to go with the flow, which almost always prevents me from a fall and brings me to a new level.
There is a self-will imposed on a successful journey down the mountain. Equally, one must let go and allow oneself to slide; otherwise one would be stuck. In hindsight, my inability to trade in my iPhone was a slip, and I reacted with self-criticism. However, I wish I recognized that I was simply going with the flow by spending all my time studying for the MCAT rather than focusing on how to dispose of my phone. By going with this flow, I was brought to something much greater than a few hundred dollars for an old iPhone. I was brought to an amazing medical school. In a clean turn, my old iPhone will now help propel my success at this new stage of my life. Ultimately, each one of these miraculous coincidences builds my faith and lowers internal criticism.
Seeing the universe take care of me at the most granular level makes it easier to let go and anticipate something greater than what I can imagine will come.
Class of 2026