The Facebook posts scroll through hate and war and terror to love and hope and brilliance. A woman posts her son’s first book. A friend poses in an optimistic way on a brilliant sunny beach with the word POSITIVITY stamped across the center of the photo. Another woman posts about her disabled daughter rising early, dressing herself and making breakfast for her brother.
Still another post forwards stories from the media that scare her. Cowering in the corner, we observe, we read, we lurk, we fear. We don’t actually live all the while we are posting and exclaiming and wondering and shaking.
What would your day be like if you shut off social media? Technology? Smart phones?
Yesterday I sat in the green room at WDIV Channel 4 with a client and watched as two other groups of guests had palms open, smart phones resting there, gaze down at the screen rather than at each other or around the room to see where we actually stood. We did it too.
We connected outside of where we were instead of being in the moment. Then they went on the air. You can take pictures if you want, I was told, so I stood behind the tele-prompters and recorded the wonderful moments for my client and myself and then posted it all over the social-sphere.
It’s what we do.
Last weekend, at my retreat Up North, a participant got sick. She had a cold or something coming on as she drove north and it settled in fully so she took to her hotel bed and rested until it was time to go home. If I had been at home, she said, I would have worried about all the things I had to do. Here, I could just sleep.
We shut out the world when we go away (or at least we try to) and we are better for it. In our everyday lives, we connect connect connect obsessively, as if afraid of missing, what exactly?
What would be the worst outcome if we shut down and stepped away for a day? Or a week?
Or our lives.
In Maine with my husband in June, we hiked trails where there was no signal. So we settled into the quiet and each other’s presence and the trees and the views and the ocean and the birds. And I pondered whether ascending or descending is harder and loved the metaphor.
Could the answer to all of the awful things in this world be as easy as shutting down our fears and turning on our intuition? What if every single terrorist sat down to meditate? What if we looked into another’s eyes and saw the humanity there, the similarity to our deepest selves? Would we put down our arms and take up another’s hand and breathe in the peace?
When I get quiet, I get happy. When I stop running, and planning, and checking off the to-do list, that’s where the peace lives.
I think of those days when I’ve got a packed schedule and one of my children wakes up sick. Cancel it all, and I am none the worse for it. And so I settle in on the couch with blankets with my little one and nurture them and love them and in the process love myself.
They say, we make plans and God laughs.
So today, as I venture forward to a breakfast meeting followed by a coffee meeting followed by a meeting-meeting followed by a long circuitous drive for a meeting about my next book, I’ll play the soothing music and breathe long and deep and remember that none of it matters, even while all of it does.