08 Nov Looking Up!
What I have come to learn in my life is that what seems to be a huge inconvenience can be a truly inspiring gift. I was once again reminded of this fact over the past two weeks. As most people who read my blogs know, I lost my phone in a toilet. As I am in Paris, I decided to order a new phone from the States. But as life would have it, that process came with its own set of complications. So, I have been without a phone for over two weeks.
After about three days of feeling somewhat paralyzed by not having GPS or messaging, I remembered that there was life before cell phones. In fact, we had things called maps and simply made clear plans in advance. So, I decided to embark upon a journey that ended up being very retro, but completely doable. It just took a bit more preparation, and I had to pay more attention to my surroundings.
As it turned out, I realized a few things. 1. Using a map or set of instructions is quite easy. Although convenient, GPS isn’t right nor does the WIFI signal always come in. But with a map, I was always sure to get where I needed to go. 2. Because I was no longer glued to my GPS or looking at a phone for any reason, I was hyper aware of my surroundings. But as I came to quickly realize, it turns out that we live in a world where very few people actually look up (or even just look).
I live in a beautiful city. But in the last two weeks, I realized that so few people actually seem to be seeing it. Even the tourists are looking at it through a phone. I was surprised by how few people stopped to look at anything for very long without taking a picture of it. In my two-week sabbatical without a phone, I finally got to really see Paris. I have noticed so much more when not trying to take a picture of it or navigate it through my GPS. In fact, the more I looked up, the more I noticed hidden treasures in the architecture of the city. Did you know that Paris is guarded by statues of angels carved onto so many beautiful sites? The court yard of Louvre has small cherubs lining the entire parameter of the building. More than that, I saw people. I watched them, their faces, and how many people never even took a moment notice to see me. But I saw them because I had the great luxury of not having a phone. I wasn’t listening for a phone, wanting to message someone, or wondering the time. I was present and because I was present, I had a far more profound experience here.
Now I am not suggesting that you throw out your phone. But I would suggest that you put it down (or away) from time to time. What is the point of taking a picture if you’ve missed everything else around that frame? What is the point of a text if you don’t have meaningful connection with the person receiving it? When we live like this, we are doing nothing more than exchanging information with each other. We are like human Googles. Moreover, we can never know what we truly missed when we live so much of our lives through a device.
Do yourself, family, and friends a favor and make a commitment to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day without a phone and completely present with your loved ones. Talk, share, hug, and connect without a phone between you. You will find that the exchange for connection and love is more connection and love in return.