Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Be Present

Remember this: Even in the most mundane conversations, the best insight can be gained.  

I called the Wilt office two weeks ago to finalize travel plans with Melanie. We were flying west for the same event, but out of the same state. She and I chatted about lunch meetings, dinner plans with clients and what we were wearing. Having a boss with a pulse on the latest fashion: I consider it one of our greatest personal benefits at Wilt

"And, Lindsay," Mel closed the conversation, "there will be things you won't want to miss. 
Shut off your phone, and your ipad. present." 

Be present. 
It was subtle advice, but it struck me to the core. 

I've always considered myself someone who lives in the moment.
Who soaks it up. 
Who carries a camera so to not forget. 
I thought Melanie knew that. 

Then I thought back to last week when I played with my niece and nephew; I didn't lose sight of my phone in case they said something worth texting on to Grammie. Looking back, I can't even remember what Marlee, Harrison and I talked about that evening in the play room. 

Then I remembered the prettiest sunset I've ever seen. The glare on my lens left the strangest watermark. I only know that, not because of the memories that sunset engrained in my mind's eye, but because I look back on the photos and remember how upset I was that I didn't have a clean lens. Funny, had I appreciated it with my own eyes, that sunset would still be as perfect as I perceived it. 

Then I remembered getting kicked out of a game of black jack in Reno because I was texting my Uncle Steve about how much fun I was having. Things weren't nearly as fun two tables down, alone, waiting for Cody to wrap up his winning streak. My connectivity placed me at a major disadvantage. 

All of these moments have this timestamp stigma on them because I evaluated them based on their status-worthiness, their aperture or how much they would matter to someone else

But friends, remember these words:

Have I gotten so carried away with documenting every minute that I'm not actually living in the present? 

These days my alarm goes off and I check my phone before I get out of bed. 
My texts. 
My email. 
My Facebook. 
Then I rush to the shower.
I used to listen to the birds sing. 

These days I enjoy a girls' night at Wannabeez and feel obligated to document this best one-liner that comes out of Laramie's mouth. 
I used to enjoy the fact that no one in this tiny town knew where I was on a Thursday night. 

These days I can't have dinner with 4-H friends or Grandma or ex-coworkers until I check my phone because I'm so busy
Previously, I planned a week in advance and looked forward to every encounter, rather than view them as another dot on my calendar. 

Be present.

Five days after Melanie's unsolicited advice, I found myself at a restaurant in the heart of Chicago celebrating Momma's 60th. I looked across the poorly lit table and realized how the gold in Momma's  bronzer made her absolutely glow. I reached for my phone. One-handedly I searched for it in my purse on the back of the chair, then quit. I realized that in the time I was wasting trying to document Momma's wrinkles (you're welcome, Linda) I was missing the pleasure of having her all dolled-up and close to me. A girls' night nearly ruined by a mediocre Facebook post. 

And I think about these kids who didn't grow up like you and I did. 
The ones who carry cheesy (FAKE) smiles with hands on their hips, not because they're happy, but because their face only moves in one direction when a camera or cell phone comes close to their teeth
I think of the kids who hit a home run then look to the stands only to see their parent looking down at their phone in an attempt to be the latest, coolest sportscaster in Smalltown, USA. 
I look at the gals who had a tough enough time finding a prom dress that they were semi-confident in, only to be "tagged" in photos by their "I'd-give-anything-to-be-17-again" mothers. 

Those are the ones who lose by us not being present. 

Melanie's words struck me because they flat called me out. In two words. 
Be present. 
She and I have a trust and respect that extends both ways. 
When Melanie advises, I listen. 
And let's be honest. She is a no-bull kind of gal. 

So I knew I had a problem when she had the guts to bring my lack of presence to my attention. She realized that I miss out on a lot because I try to play storyteller/photographer/documentarian. 

So what are you missing because you can't disconnect?
When was the last time you shut it off?
Quit checking in between laundry loads and miles jogged and performances of The Voice.

Because quite frankly, no one cares. 

Remember, some of the best days of your life 
were when cell phones and Facebook didn't exist. 
Be present 
and decide for yourself. 

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