I was thinking the other day as I was people watching (I don’t know about you but I REALLY enjoy people watching – humans are fascinating!) and I got to wondering… Have you ever noticed how distracted we all are? How many opportunities we’ve missed to engage with the world around us? Do we notice the person sitting at the table next to us or the one who just walked by?
We have so much noise surrounding us threatening to crush us – to keep us from engaging with reality. How do we resist suffocating from it all? There are distractions calling our attention in every direction. Our world doesn’t allow for a moment of silence. The thought of sitting in silence for five minutes – FIVE MINUTES – makes most stiffen in fright. (Or going out to eat by yourself, which I am currently doing).
To wonder. To ponder. To contemplate something outside ourselves. To engage for a moment with a stranger, (or even allowing the possibility of engagement with another). That seems like way too much work!
It’s easy to allow ourselves to give in to distraction, to be consumed by the lights and the noise of each day. We have an adult pacifier in our pocket (the smartphone). It keeps us from having to engage with the world around us. It prevents us from letting our mind wander for a single moment. It keeps us from contemplating, from engaging, from living.
But just sitting, being, allowing space to disengage – it’s scary. There’s so much unknown and there’s so much that we might need to think about that we’ve been avoiding. We might end up dreaming about some wonderful idea or meeting someone new who thinks completely differently than we do. But is it really all that scary? Are we resisting the silence, the disengagement from distraction and re-engagement with the world out of fear? Or maybe it’s that we might be responsible for something other than ourselves – some new idea or someONE new.
But what if…
What if within some of the awkward exchanges and painful acknowledgments there was something real? Something authentic. What if for a moment we could sit and listen to the birds singing a melody? What if we chose to think about what the world would be like if more people smiled? What if for a moment we chose not to pick up our phone and instead said hello to the older lady in line (or the guy who just sat at the other end of the table)?
What if at this moment we choose to take 5 minutes to shut off all distractions and go for a walk? What if we choose to say hello to the person waiting in line for their drink too instead of scrolling on our phone?