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Calm app
Sean Scully

It says a lot about our national psyche when the highest rated app for your phone these days is something called Calm.

Having just returned from a vacation to San Francisco — in which my greatest worries were which Tartine pastry to order (I chose 8) and if my eyes would fall out of my skull from the sheer beauty of the cliffs over the Pacific — I decided I could use a little Calm to facilitate a bumpy re-entry into the real world of porn stars and presidents. So I downloaded the app.

How’s it going, you ask?

Truthfully, Calm has caused me more anxiety than I had previously. Which was, in layman’s terms, a heap.

For starters, I’m cheap and didn’t realize it costs $60 a year, which they take out of your iTunes account. It automatically renews so now I have to remember to turn it off. Which I never will. So that’s $60 a year for life and now I’m all worked up again.

Of course, you can cancel, but I’m not ready to do that either. I do like Calm’s admittedly soothing seagull/ocean sounds and lovely landscapes, the perfect counter to the destructive drivel from Scott Pruitt, our EPA chief who has never met a first-class cabin he didn’t like or a Flint, Michigan, resident he did.

Uh-oh. Calm is reminding me to “breathe.”

Calm and I are off to a shaky start. It’s not them, it’s me. No doubt younger customers aren’t put off by the opening screen, which announces there will be a “brand-new Daily Calm every day.” EVERY DAY??? I can barely remember to moisturize every day. What if I miss one? How will I keep up? Will this be on the quiz? Arrrrggh.

Calm offers more than 100 meditations covering anxiety, focus, stress and gratitude. This is daunting. And now I feel ungrateful.

There’s a whole library of Sleep Stories. The good news is maybe they’ve finally found somewhere to recycle all those episodes of “The Blacklist.”

Every month, the app offers a new Masterclass featuring “world-renowned mindfulness experts.” Who are these people, and what did they do before they got this gig? I’m guessing Chipotle.

Calm asks that you complete a profile that charts how long you are meditating so you can extend your mindful minutes a little with each session. I have already turned off the Mindfulness Reminder, since you ask.

There’s also an easy way to “share your stats” with friends who use Calm. Instead of crowing about hitting your 20,000 steps for the day, now you can share with the less mindful how many minutes you’ve spent “meditating.” This smacks of competition, which seems the opposite of Calm’s goals, but what do I know? I never actually worked at Chipotle.

And finally, there’s a droplet icon labeled “Sleep Mist,” which I’ve been scared to activate because it seems like something a Bond villain might spray in your face before tossing you off a high-speed train.

Uh-oh. Breathe...

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times bestselling author and humor columnist who frequently writes about politics. She wrote this for the Tribune News Service.

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