I was just scrolling through the pictures on my phone and found some from our trip to Portland. I had the thought: that was something really awesome we did last year. Except we went in March. As in March 2016. Six months ago.
Moments before this I was reflecting on the fact that next week I would be headed back to Albuquerque for a writing retreat and thinking how it certainly didn’t seem like it had been a year since the last one.
There are 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds in every day. The same amount of time, no matter how it’s measured. So how is it that is can feel so different? Has there been so much going on these last six months that it seems like more time must have passed (as in: surely, all that could NOT happened in just six months)? Or is the time since Albuquerque shortened by the fact I’ve kept up with friends online and feel like I just saw them? Perhaps a little of both?
Or maybe none of either.
Maybe tomorrow Portland will seem like yesterday and Albuquerque light years away. Time passes, fast or slow. And maybe it doesn’t matter how close or far away events of the past seem. Yes, it matters that we made those moments and have those memories, but I think maybe what matters more, is moving on to make the next moment. The next connection. The next adventure.
I can be a bit distracted at times. Sometimes it’s external (oh wow, shiny objects); sometimes internal (ah right, that’s exactly what that character needs to do). Remaining present in the here and now is something I am always working on and I love this little reminder.
Not too long ago I wrote about my need to disengage a bit from social media*. I’m sad to report that simply naming the problem did not particularly help. Which means it’s time for something more. Once again today (and plenty of other days in between) I found myself scrolling through Facebook and checking out of a real conversation. I do this way too often; waste time that I could be spending on people and activities that I love. Those things that bring me joy, that make me whole. The same things I immediately regret neglecting when I look at the clock and see that 15 minutes, half an hour . . . an *gasp* hour has passed while I’ve been skimming though re-posts of some e-cards, pictures of people I barely know and countless rounds of who’s voting for whom and why the other side is wrong.
So I’m stepping back. For real this time. I just removed the Facebook app from my phone. It would be dishonest not to share the fact that there was a tiny sinking feeling in my stomach when I did it. (Which is obviously exactly why I needed to do it.) It’s not going to be a wholesale boycott. I’ll still post this blog there, since people have shared with me that they like to keep up with what’s going on here that way. I’ll still check in for work-related purposes. I’ll also still occasionally check in on far-away friends; the ability to bridge the miles is surely Facebook at it’s best. What I won’t do is check in each time I have a free second, minute or hour. There will be parameters. Parameters that favor conversation and life in real-time. A glance through my list of friends tonight, reminded me that I live in the same city as the overwhelming majority of them. I’m lucky to be surrounded by friends, family, love and the in-person opportunities that some long for. It’s time I acted like it.
When started thinking about really (for real) making a change in this area of my life, I thought: I’ll try it for a month. You know, see how it goes. But as I reflect on it now, I realize that’s sort of like saying: I plan to be more present in my real life for a month . . . and then you know, whatever. So I’m not going to set a time frame. Instead I’m just going to step back indefinitely. And if I feel my life is lacking, then I’ll step right back in.
Somehow, even with a bit of that sinking feeling lingering . . . I doubt that will happen.
*To be clear, by social media – I mean Facebook. Twitter is far more easy for me to step away from and I love everything about blogging.
This morning, while I was in the midst of my morning scroll through Facebook over breakfast my husband said something to me. I replied. He looked confused, as one is apt to do when the person they are talking to offers a response that has nothing to do with the topic of discussion.
I wish this was an isolated incident; but it is not. This was definitely not the first time I’ve found myself attempting to engage in both real life and social media at the same time and failing. Whether it’s Facebook and a conversation with my husband or Twitter and a phone call with a friend, it seems I simply cannot do both at the same time. Which begs the question – why do I try? What makes me keep scrolling down the screen when someone else is talking?
Is what I’m reading on the screen that important.? Doubtful. If it was I wouldn’t have answered in the first place. Wouldn’t have even thought about trying to engage in a real-life conversation. And seriously is there ever anything on Facebook or Twitter that just can’t wait? The answer is unequivocally: NO. If there was something a good friend desperately needed to tell me, I’m sure they would pick up the phone and call or track me down in person.
So why is that morning scroll through Facebook part of my routine? Why do I feel the need to glance at my Twitter feed while sitting down for a drink with friends? The answer is unequivocally: ABSOLUTELY NO REASON. Except perhaps the fact that it’s all so accessible. Just a tap on the screen of my phone. A click of the mouse. A split second to vast amounts of information at my fingertips. But at what cost? Is it more important to know that the person who is a friend of a friend seven times removed just had an awesome fro yo than to spend ten minutes in conversation with the love of my life. Clearly not.
So I’ve been making an effort to disengage a bit. To stop reaching for my iPhone every quiet moment. To give space for conversation, for curiosity, for day- dreaming. Space to find my balence. Space to put first things first.