Be Where You Are

Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum; Photo credit: Doree Weller

Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum; Photo credit: Doree Weller

I’m trying to be more mindful this year. It’s not a resolution or anything, because when I make a “resolution,” I probably won’t follow through. No, it’s just a “thing” I’m working on.

We went to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum, which is essentially a bunch of planes. I’m more interested in history than I used to be, but planes and space shuttles aren’t really my thing. It didn’t help that I had been to this museum before, and we were just back because the space shuttle was there and the husband wanted to see it.

I was tempted by my cellphone several times. I could have surfed the internet, browsed pictures, texted friends, or played Candy Crush, but instead, I told myself, “Be where you are.” I walked around and looked at different things, people watched, and daydreamed. I didn’t have a special revelation or anything, but it was nice to be in the moment, and doing it takes training.

Technology is the ultimate in “grass is greener.” It’s always better somewhere else, and I can be somewhere else pretty much instantly. I just hop on my iPhone and go. I miss my friends and family when I’m not with them, but when I’m with them, I… Text other people? Read Facebook? Surf the internet? How does that make sense?

We visited my sister-in-law and brother-in-law last week.  The four of us get together once a year, as they live in Virginia, and we’re in Arizona.  I only get to see them one week a year, and the Internet will still be there the other 51.  So I made an effort to have my phone away during most of the time we could interact, and I tried to annoy everyone else into putting their phones away too.  During times where they drove us into DC for sightseeing, instead of getting out my phone, I quizzed them about what they liked in school and what they thought they wanted to do when they grew up.  I learned some things about everyone in the car, even the husband!  I feel like I learned more about them on this trip than I have on previous ones.

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put my phone down and go do something today.

Phones, Food, and Fun

I had a rare Friday night off, and my husband and I went out to dinner.  Because it was crowded in the restaurant, we opted to sit at the sushi bar at Ra.  Jesus was our sushi chef, and he was very pleasant, talking to us throughout the meal and answering all our questions about rolls he was making for other people.

My husband and I didn’t talk about it, but we both tried a new thing… no phones at dinner.  I managed to get through a meal without Words with Friends or email.  My husband didn’t check the news.  Now, I’m not gonna pretend that it went like our first date, where the waiter had to come back four or five times because we were too busy talking to figure out what to eat, but we found that we had plenty to talk about.

On my way to wash my hands, I looked around the restaurant.  There was a group of people making noise and laughing.  Know what I noticed?  Not one person in that group was looking at or holding a cell phone.  In another corner, a couple sat, looking bored.  The glow of a cell phone showed from under the table.

I don’t know which came first, the lack of conversation or the cell phone, but I just know that something’s gotta give.  Why go out to dinner with one another if you aren’t going to talk?  If you just want to surf the internet, shouldn’t you just order in and eat at home?

Can you imagine reading that in a romance novel?  Sexy Man gazed deeply into Gorgeous Woman’s eyes and smiled.  “I’m so glad we’re finally getting to do this.”

“So am I,” she replied.

They placed their order, and silence fell for a moment.  She gazed thoughtfully into the flickering candle flame on the table, then took out her cell phone and updated her status to reflect, “Gorgeous Woman just checked in with Sexy Man at Trendy Restaurant.”  He grabbed his phone and scowled as he read the news.

Romantic, huh?

I challenge you: next time you go for dinner, keep the cell phone off in a pocket or a purse.  Even if at first, you have nothing to talk about, see what happens.  A conversation just might grow out of the quiet.