I have had this blog post I want to write about Passover. I’ve been mulling it in my head and writing bits and pieces in fits and starts for 3 days. I thought I would get some time this weekend to finish it up and publish it. I didn’t.
Each time a possible moment presented itself, it was in the context of a choice: I could bury my head in my phone and write, or I could be present to my nieces and nephews.
Today we all gathered at my parents house for lunch. I thought maybe I would sneak away to write after lunch, but instead decided to play a board game with the kids.
When we finished, the kids went outside to play. I thought about pulling out my laptop and quickly writing, but I really wanted to be outside with them.
I went outside. There was enough adult supervision that I didn’t need to be watching the kids. I started to write on my phone. Each time I started, I felt drawn back to what was happening in front of me.
Finally, I put away the phone. I’ll write that blog post later … Passover is an eight day holiday.
Or maybe I won’t. Maybe it will go in the pile of unfinished blog posts.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t care about my message. I know the value of what I offer through my message. I know how transformational my message is to those who need to hear it.
And that pile of unfinished blog posts haunts me many days. It’s probably at least a book’s worth. (Hmm… That’s an idea: a book of unfinished blog posts… Talk about content repurposing!)
Yet I don’t regret my choice. There are moments you can’t get back. Ever. You can’t take them for granted.
And I know that I would be haunted more by the magic moments that I missed while my focus was on my screen.
You can’t be in two places at once.
You’re either present, or you’re not.
I’m not talking about your physical body. When you’re eyes are focused on the screen, they aren’t focused on the 6-year-old teaching his 4-year-old cousins how to climb up the slide on the swing set or stand on the swing.
When you’re paying attention to (or recording) the latest Periscope, you’re not seeing the 4-year olds and 6 year old pushing the baby around in the little toy fire truck and signing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
You’re not hearing the funny voices that kids make or seeing the funny faces and body language.
You’re not seeing this:
In the moments when I feel particularly eager to get something done, or when I feel the pull to post online or check my news feed for the latest updates, I remind myself of this essential truth:
While your head is buried in your screen, checking the latest Pin, ’gram, ’scope, chat, Tweet or status update, or sharing your latest photo with the world, you are missing the life that is happening right in front of you.
This is the only life that’s real.
In any moment like this when I feel pulled to check my screen or immerse in my writing or social media (let’s not even start with email), I ask myself: is the pretense of what’s on your screen really more important than the life happening right in front of you?
The urge to share online is strong, but you cannot share that which you haven’t experienced. And you cannot experience the moment while you are in your screen.
We live in a culture that promotes a myth of limited time and encourages us to multitask to get as much done as possible.
Please don’t buy into the belief that time is limited.
Time is infinite. Life is fleeting.
What is the life that you are missing while your head is buried in the screen?
I know your message is important. I know your work is transformational. I understand your desire to make an impact in this world. I feel you. I feel this way about my work and my role in this world.
We come from a place of love and service; we have nothing but the best intentions as we sit on the sidelines of the soccer game, trying to capture those fleeting thoughts and share them with the world in real time.
No matter how big your following, the biggest impact you can make is to the life that is in front of you. Just like there is a magic in attending live events, there is a power in your presence.
Put down the phone. Sit back. Listen to the sounds of children laughing. Notice the smells and sounds and sights all around you.
Witness the impact you can have on the people right in front of you, in the physical world.
You might discover that the person you impact most is yourself.