As I was walking to work this morning, it occurred to me that I never really “see” where I am most of the time. Usually, I’m carrying so many bags and focusing on the task at hand that I forget to look up at the sky and appreciate my surroundings. These moments can even occur when you’re just sitting in a meeting or engaging in a lunch conversation with someone. Suddenly, your phone buzzes or you start zoning out thinking about next weekend’s plans and you’re no longer in the room. It’s almost as if you turned into a silhouette of a person, disengaged from the conversation while everyone else is living in the moment.
It’s a common thing to not notice what is right in front of you, since the environment of today’s world is very forward-thinking and progressive. People often encourage you to let go of the past and think about the future, but a lot of times, the present moment is forgotten in favor of the “next best thing.” I know for a fact that I am guilty of making plans for the future while the present moment is still occurring, even if I had been looking forward to it for a while.
For example, I was very excited for my birthday this year, yet once it actually came around, I was more more focused on how many people acknowledged it on Facebook than on the actual celebration. When the day was over, I realized that because of my own oblivion, I had single-handed-ly sabotaged my special day. It can be hard during the moment to recognize when you are in the wrong, but I learned one valuable lesson that day – put your cell phone away and will yourself to live in the moment. Don’t rely on your technology to be the crutch for you when conversations get awkward. You will get much more out of life if you immerse yourself in what you are doing and put your smart phone or laptop away when you are interacting with others in person. I’ve lost count of how many people I see on a regular basis that are so glued to their gadgets that they don’t notice anything else around them. If you removed your iPod headphones and put your phone away for a bit each day, there is so much you don’t realize that you are missing! Life is a learning experience and if you just check out of it all of the time, how are you going to take advantage of what the world has to offer?
Another thing that people often take for granted is where they live and the places they frequent the most. I was recently in a part of the United States that I had never been before and it was interesting to observe a way of life that was very different from what I am used to. At the same time, there were many similarities that I picked up from my own hometown. In a way, traveling to a new place is a metaphor for living in the moment, as you are constantly moving and picking up new experiences along the way. If you are constantly on your cell phone or daydreaming while events go by, how are you going to look back on the memories of that time? Perhaps you will regret being so naive and forgetting to enjoy what was right in front of you. In the end, it’s not the past or future that defines our lives, but the moment that can make or break a situation.
In the long run, what do you want people to remember you for? Your ever-present cell phone and Facebook updates, or the fact that you could be a fantastic listener and make them feel like they were the only person in the room? If you think about it, it’s only a matter of changing your mindset on life and situations that can define you as a person. If you want to be in the moment, you can be. It might be only a matter of disconnecting yourself from the chains of technology and keeping yourself in the present. If you look up at the sky and remember that you only have this moment, maybe you can start to enjoy what you have.