look around

I must confess, I write this post as a recently converted iPhone user. My life will never be the same...

Much has been said about the impact of technology on our day-to-day lives, oftentimes framed negatively as we become more and more dependent on technological devices. We cannot ignore this reality.

So as one who actively participates in this technologically-dependent culture (iPhone and all!), I try to integrate ways to avoid the trappings of technology that can so easily overtake my day-to-day life.

One practice I’ve adopted is quite simple. I regularly look around. Profound, I know! I stop, observe, listen, and  watch. I take moments through the day to be attentive to my surroundings; to notice the complex subtleties that make up our world. Mostly, I take only a minute or two; just enough time to notice my surroundings - an environment that influences and impacts each moment of my life whether I know it or not. But it’s up to me to notice.

For example, while recently sitting on a park bench, I decided to jot down a few words as I observed that particular moment. Lots happens in a minute or two:
Noise, walking, smoking, birds, reflection, colors, distraction, clouds, history, isolation, fast, slow, assertion, addiction, talking, silence, coffee, litter, green, community.
Each word reflects the moment as it lay before me. And each word has a story I only began to notice as I took in my surroundings. Many of my observations revealed a tension of everyday experience that somehow combines to form life as we know it - isolation-community, fast-slow, noise-silence. Again, complex subtleties of everyday life that we need to notice.

I learned something important in this simple exercise. It’s blatantly obvious, I know, but my iPhone and I don’t make the world go ‘round. Go figure.

I do believe technology helps us navigate the complexity of life more efficiently - I have and will continue to utilize the benefits of technological advance. But let’s not let technology distract us from the details of everyday life. Let’s not allow our gadgets give us a false of sense of power or popularity. More connected than ever in the broadest sense, we risk becoming disconnected in the best sense - here and now.

Just look around.


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