Unplug and open up

Last week I arrived to a lunch meeting about 20 minutes early and decided to keep my phone in my jacket pocket instead of keeping myself preoccupied with the latest status updates on all of the social media sites.  As I sat there and took in my surroundings, it was astonishing the stories that I could envision of the people around me.  The restaurant was buzzing with activity with a lunch rush; staff were hustling by and communicating to each other; one table in the corner was celebrating a birthday; another group of elderly women were toasting to their friend for her recent success; and a couple to my right appeared to be newly in love.  I was able to process all my information through various verbal comments, facial expressions, body language, smiles, and pure energy throughout the room.  Granted, it wasn’t detailed information about the circumstances behind each interaction, but they were all full of life.  Undoubtedly, that experience was way more interesting and incredibly more ‘real’ than any status update I could have read that day.

It made me wonder, how much of the world do we shield ourselves from now in the spirit of ‘staying connected?’   And why is it so difficult to simply sit and observe?  Are we hesitant to observe others or perhaps, even our own self?  Are we afraid that someone will actually look in our eyes and engage us, even if simply through a smile? Or are our own thoughts so chaotic that we don’t want to be alone with them for even a few minutes?

I love forums such as this where I can intentionally seek out particular topics, ideas, and like-minded people.  And I am grateful to share my thoughts and ideas with whoever may want to listen, but we both know that throughout this post I have had the luxury of editing, adjusting, or otherwise omitting information for one reason or the other.  And while I value the ability to appropriately formulate my thoughts before sharing them with the world, there is a limitation to my ability to truly connect with someone who is not able to look into my eyes, hear the tone of my voice, or simply be with me in that moment when I stumble for the right words.  My hope is that we find that balance of engaging with each other as  honestly as we can, in whatever venue we have available to us.  I know that my best and most real self comes out when I unplug and open up to the world right in front of me. And in the end, that is what helps me feel more confident in opening up to this world as well.  (Insert a gentle smile here).

 

Happy guys

Happy guys

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What is your connection?

Family of Elephants

What defines a connection? How do you know you have connected with someone or something and what does it feel like? And most importantly, how do you nurture these connections? Some people may define their connections in direct correlation with the number of friends they have on Facebook or how many followers they have on Twitter, but I am talking about something more; something deeper that is not captured or analyzed by social media sites.

Connections are meaningful experiences you have with someone or something that happens within yourself.  It’s when you think “this person totally gets me and is simply amazing”.  It is an interaction that leads you to want to spend more time with that person, get to know them, and share more experiences.  It is the feeling you have when you feel most comfortable in your own skin.  And when you don’t need words to fill a silent space. Connections happen when you feel like you are a part of something bigger than your immediate surroundings.  It’s a moment when you are standing on the edge of the ocean and you realize how small you are in comparison to the whole world.  It is when you witness nature in a pure sense and feel like there is purpose within you that speaks ever so softly.

Connections are not to be measured, they are to be experienced. They create a space in your soul that reminds you that you are loved and valued and a part of something much bigger than you can even imagine.  It is through real life interactions that connections grow.

If you do nothing else this week, find a way to nurture one of your treasured connections.  Step outside and gaze at the sunset or clouds in the sky.  Feel the breeze on your skin as you watch squirrels play in the yard.  Buy a card and write out a few lines of gratitude why a particular person is important to you.  Or better yet, send them a hand written note.  Have dinner with a good friend.  Remind yourself and the people in your life what really matters.

Of course, I enjoy using social media and other high-tech methods to stay in touch with loved ones.  However, I believe it’s critical to remember the importance of how we sustain our most treasured resources both within and outside of our self.  I’m sure there is an app somewhere that is designed in the spirit of ‘staying connected’, but nothing is as dependable as the internal programming of my heart and soul.  🙂