It’s an overcast day. You are walking down the street on your way to a meeting. The streets are wet with remnants of the rainstorm that blew through last night. The air smells crisp and you are wondering whether or not things are going to go your way this week…
You come to an intersection and wait for the light to change from red to green. You are less irritated with red lights now (and even sometimes secretly hope for them when you are driving) as they give you time to completely focus on returning the text you have to send.
Staring into the abyss of the tiny screen on your phone, checking which messages you haven’t yet responded to, concern appears in the tightness of your lips and the furrow of your forehead as you think again about the massive list of things you have to do.
A slight feeling of overwhelm creeps into your chest and you look away from the phone to distance yourself from the tasks all waiting for your attention.
The light turns green. Habit finds your head still glancing both ways quickly before you cross the street, and as you step off the curb, out of the corner of your eye you see it.
Your heart skips a tiny beat.
A rush of excitement, disbelief, and the thrill of anticipation as to whether or not it could possibly be…
You step towards it, looking around with a hint of panic to protect it – from someone else, from the wind, from anything… and then you quickly bend, holding your breath as you reach for it.
You snatch it… Examine it, and smile. It’s real, and now it’s yours.
You stand taller. You just found a twenty dollar bill.
Today is going to be your day.
Things are going to work out.
Your grin spreads wide across your face and for the first time you look around, directly at the faces of the other people on the street, in the hopes of celebrating your victory with someone who saw… Even just one other smile.
But they are all entranced by their tiny screens, navigating peripherally as a sea of people who no longer see each other…
No matter, you think – It will be your private victory. And then you light up your phone to decide who you should text.
Unexpected wins. Experiences like finding a twenty dollar bill today somehow seem more powerful than they used to. We feel lucky, chosen, as though somehow the universe is intending to tell us, that it’s still on our side.
Do they hold such power because we all take on so many tasks that the feeling of winning is perpetually just around the corner? Do they feel that way because we rarely notice each other anymore?
We barely recognize the efforts that we all go to and are almost numb to acknowledging progress… somehow indifferent, detached and isolated.
We have become so far removed from each other, trained to avoid eye contact with anyone. Instead we look busy and feel compelled to scroll through our phones whenever we have a moment of unscheduled time to ensure we don’t look like we have nothing to do.
We’re so busy looking socially connected and the irony is that to accomplish this we’ve become socially disconnected. It’s okay to admit that we’re doing it wrong. Being needed on your cellphone today does not make you look more important anymore…
The greatest memories that we all have are memories of when we felt connected. The best part of almost any victory is in the telling of the story and the sharing of it with friends afterwards. The bonding experience that occurs when reliving the journey from doubt or struggle to final victory is what we crave… This is the same for us all.
We want to see each other.
We want to share our moments.
We want to connect with others that we don’t know.
We think its weird that we don’t chat more in elevators.
We remember a time when people used to smile at each other as they passed on street…
We do scroll through our phones to make ourselves look busy while we sit silently, each of us at our own lunch table- alone.
We need to look up, and put away our phones.