My best gift is one that I rarely ever give.
I know that the best and most important thing I can do for my friends and family is to be fully present and yet I rarely ever find myself making my full and undivided presence a reality for those whom I love the most.
The problem that I and many others experience is that we have the whole world at our finger tips at any given moment. Case in point: Last night my wife and I were watching one of our favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. During the movie we were trying to figure out the name of the woman Clark Griswold dreams about by his pool. So, of course, I grab my phone and look her up. We talk about her and notice that she is in her 60’s now, then we comment on how crazy it is that the movie was made 30 years ago, then we wonder how old Julia Louis Dreyfus is…57?!?! wow she has aged well, and before you know it I am on facebook looking at a video some friends made and checking the weather for the next 15 days.
Here is the things about rabbit holes, they are long and wandering, they appear out of no where and like Alice they seem to promise excitement and adventure. Also, like Alice the promise of excitement and adventure are much more alluring that simply sitting and watching a movie that I love with the people I love right?
Here is the problem… Just like Alice’s wonderland the things that exist in those millions of pixels are not real, they are representations of things that are real but they are not present. It is amazing that we will often forgo the things are are actually real, tangible and present for those things that are fabricated, untouchable and distant. Unfortunately for many people, in doing this, they begin to ostracize and make distant the people they love the most.
This is a problem I have and one I bet most of us deal with on a regular basis. Here are a couple of strategies I am employing to be more present with the ones I love the most.
No Devices While Sitting with Others- I find that when I am sitting down I am most vulnerable to grabbing my device and “just checking one thing.” If it is within arms reach I will grab it, whether a break in a show, an interruption by one of our children or simply on a whim to learn who the brunette is in Christmas Vacation. I justify this because I love to learn new information, but in those moments that information comes at a cost that I am no longer willing to pay.
Designate Time- We are a digitally connected people and that should not be lost in this conversation. At least in my world, completely disconnecting digitally does not make sense. While this is the case it does not also mean that I have to be connected all of the time. So, as with many things, it is important to be intentional about giving ourselves designated times to “check in” digitally. Setting some designated times and time limits is one way to help curb that FOMO many of us experience when the phone is just out of reach. Designate a few times a day to just browse, soak up interesting facts and see what people are doing digitally. When we have designated times to do this it will allow us to queue our inquiries and wonderings until those moments.
Pay Attention- The truth is the longing for the “other” the information and the FOMO would be reduced significantly if we would simply open our eyes and hearts to those who are right in front of us. Many times the reason why we get bored in our present situations is because we are simply not paying attention. There is a whole world of goodness sitting right in front of us, and entire reality playing out of which we are often a silent and disconnected bystander. The world that is in front of us is always infinitely more interesting than the facsimile of a pixilated world on a handheld screen. Most of the time all we need to do is open our eyes to the nuances and treasures that surround us, notice the small things, listen to the sounds and lean into our realities, because they are the only real things we have.
I hope this holiday season you will be where you are, your feet will be planted firmly on solid ground and you will breathe in the goodness that is all around.