Hidden in this simple three-word question is a far deeper question of “where exactly am I?” at any given point. Unfortunately, the probability of the answer being “not here” is very high.
There were just a handful of people who owned a smartphone about 10 years ago, I think. The rest of us were naively and happily carrying our flip phones or the non-smart phones. Without the slightest inkling of what the streets and the subways and the homes and the restaurants would look like in the very near future. Not to mention the humans. You know what has changed in us humans over the last 10 years? Most of us spend a lot more time looking not at our eyesight level, but a little below. A lot more time. While walking. While eating. While waking. While waiting. While playing. While watching. Nobody looks up anymore. Everybody is busy looking down. Most of us don’t even know who or what passed us by.
To be honest, it is not just the phones. It is a more generic human tendency. To not be in the present. To brood over the past. To worry about the future. To think about the unthinkable that may never happen anyway. And fear endlessly. It is so easy and ubiquitous to distract us from the “now” that it has become our second nature.
We live in this beautiful Pacific Northwest. It truly is drop dead gorgeous. The colors that compete with each other are all different shades of green. In the most beautiful way possible. There are mountains covered with tall, green trees. There are mountains covered in snow. Every single neighborhood has its own gem. A simple drive from home to the supermarket can be filled with beautiful picturesque views. We had to go someplace the other day and it just took us a little over 30 minutes to get all three kids settled in the car before we could leave. I was thinking about the dinner and the meals and the ride and don’t-even-ask-me-what and its almost as if I was doing all of this with my eyes closed. I know I had my eyes closed because I opened my eyes for one tiny moment. I mean, really truly opened my eyes. I noticed. I exhaled. To my right was a beautiful lake overlooking these beautiful peaks covered in beautiful shades of green, except for the top, which had a shade of white as if wearing a hat. It was a sunny day. The sky was blue. There was not a single cotton ball to be seen in the sky. Not even one that could resemble a sheep without legs. It was almost perfect. Except that I was not there. I was too busy to notice it.
All of us are so busy running around, trying to finish chores, cooking, feeding, missing appointments – that we don’t have time to pause. To take a reverse gear for once. To bask in the glory of absolute nothingness. To be free. To look into someone’s eyes and say “what’s up?” and genuinely be interested in a real response to this worst question ever.
I hereby promise. To be in the moment. To pay attention to the surroundings. To look around. To soak it in. To pause. At least once a day. Well, to begin with anyway. I promise to bring this once-a-day count higher and higher each time. You know why I am trying so hard to achieve this goal? Because that is the point. “Pause” is the point. “Break” is the point. “Nothingness” is the point. “Non-goal” is the point. Everything else that happens in between – chores, laundry, meals, work, deadlines, appointments, you-name-it, are fillers in these pauses.
The meaning of life is the pause that we forget to take. That break. That blank. That nothing.
You see what I did there? Very conveniently and smoothly I snuck the “meaning of life” in this seemingly banal post. Boom. I may have exaggerated a tad bit. Let’s bring it back. So, maybe not the meaning of life. But seriously. We live so we can take these pauses. We don’t take pauses so we can live. As long as I remind myself of this golden rule, I think I will be fine. At least I would have made a solid attempt at being fine.
|This. Right Here. The tree. The flowers. The yellow. The purple. The blue. The mountains. The field. It is all here. Right here.|
And that man on the phone...the irony is not lost on me.