Last week I arrived to a lunch meeting about 20 minutes early and decided to keep my phone in my jacket pocket instead of keeping myself preoccupied with the latest status updates on all of the social media sites. As I sat there and took in my surroundings, it was astonishing the stories that I could envision of the people around me. The restaurant was buzzing with activity with a lunch rush; staff were hustling by and communicating to each other; one table in the corner was celebrating a birthday; another group of elderly women were toasting to their friend for her recent success; and a couple to my right appeared to be newly in love. I was able to process all my information through various verbal comments, facial expressions, body language, smiles, and pure energy throughout the room. Granted, it wasn’t detailed information about the circumstances behind each interaction, but they were all full of life. Undoubtedly, that experience was way more interesting and incredibly more ‘real’ than any status update I could have read that day.
It made me wonder, how much of the world do we shield ourselves from now in the spirit of ‘staying connected?’ And why is it so difficult to simply sit and observe? Are we hesitant to observe others or perhaps, even our own self? Are we afraid that someone will actually look in our eyes and engage us, even if simply through a smile? Or are our own thoughts so chaotic that we don’t want to be alone with them for even a few minutes?
I love forums such as this where I can intentionally seek out particular topics, ideas, and like-minded people. And I am grateful to share my thoughts and ideas with whoever may want to listen, but we both know that throughout this post I have had the luxury of editing, adjusting, or otherwise omitting information for one reason or the other. And while I value the ability to appropriately formulate my thoughts before sharing them with the world, there is a limitation to my ability to truly connect with someone who is not able to look into my eyes, hear the tone of my voice, or simply be with me in that moment when I stumble for the right words. My hope is that we find that balance of engaging with each other as honestly as we can, in whatever venue we have available to us. I know that my best and most real self comes out when I unplug and open up to the world right in front of me. And in the end, that is what helps me feel more confident in opening up to this world as well. (Insert a gentle smile here).