We need to pull away from our technology for a minute. I understand the hypocrisy in that statement as I type these words on my phone, and upload them via social media to the internet. I most definitely need to follow my own advice.
Fafebook, email, texting, Twitter, Netflix, Instagram – we are overly attached to them. Necessary though they seem at times, we can operate as humans without using them as much as we do. We don’t have to immediately check that post, reply to a message, upload this photo, watch that new episode. The world will not stop if we stay present where we are and immerse ourselves in the beautiful now.
Today I stopped and had a really good conversation with a charity worker from UNICEF. After saying goodbye and moving on down the street a trio of people walked briskly past me. The way they were talking treated avoiding any type of interaction like a game, and it sounded a bit like they thought of the workers as a disease not people. We may not wish to donate to the cause, we may truly be in a hurry, we may struggle in social interactions with people we don’t know, these are legitimate reasons for not stopping for a long conversation. They can make engaging with a person we don’t know, even for a short time, a difficult prospect. What they don’t change is that they are a person, who in most cases is using their time to aid a good cause.
Common ways of avoiding interactions when walking down the street and seeing a charity worker: pulling out and pretending to use our cellphone, agressively avoiding eye contact, putting our headphones in and turning the music up so loud it can be heard by passers by, walking with a purpose we didn’t have even if we’re not in a hurry, ignoring any greeting or invitation for conversation.
There is no obligation for us to talk to people who greet us on the street, and we may especially not want to if we don’t know them. Avoiding any sort of interaction is the easy option. It might not seem like it at the time, having to dodge between pedestrians, fumble for our cellphone, or duck across the street, but it is the easy option. We can learn much if we disconnect from our own bubble, even for a short time. The interaction can be short, a greeting, a simple exchange of one question each, and politely saying we must move on. As they are people they understand not everyone will have the resources to help the cause, or the time to listen right then and there.
One thing I am personally continuing to work on is listening with my ears and not my mouth. We all have ideas we want to voice, but can find ourselves saying them before we’ve heard what the person with whom we’re talking has to say. If it is an interesting conversation about something we really enjoy it becomes even harder to keep our mouth closed and our mind and ears open.
There is one particular friend I enjoy spending time with so much I sometimes find it difficult to remember things she says. She tells stories in such a wonderful way, of life filled with superblient things that lend themselves to this story telling, I get excited to ask the next question to hear about the next thing. On the flip side she is an amazing listener. She remembers things from previous conversations, even if said only once as an off hand comment. I am actively practicing this skill, to take in more of what is said in a meaningful way.
If we make the consistent conscious effort to unplug, at least every so often, amazing things happen. Use the wonderful technology and tools to reach people in parts of the world we are unable to be right now. But, don’t let that permanently pull you away from the world that exists physically where you are right now.
It can be difficult to see the far away destinations we are trying to reach. Sometimes we need to pull back, look down, and find our own feet. Only then can we see where our next step will be.
Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear readers. Peace.