Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hello life

As fall fills the November air, I found myself in conversation with a woman visiting Tulsa from the desert in Arizona who had come to town for a conference.

We spoke as we drove through a neighborhood and she told me she had grown up in California, then lived in New York for 10 years, before moving to Arizona 7 years ago. 

As we talked, she stopped and stared out the car window and marveled, "Gosh, I miss fall."

I assumed she was meaning it was her favorite season and she had missed it since last year. But then she informed me she meant that where she lives there are no trees, just a bunch of red rocks.Therefore, she doesn't get to see trees flourish in the spring, and change colors and fill the air with leaves in the fall. 

I was taken aback as I realized that I never thought about how fortunate I am to have trees. I never really noticed how much beauty they bring to my world, and how much I would miss them if I had none.  

Later in the week I was sitting outside under the stars, talking to my brother on the phone, when I looked up and stared at the sky. I suddenly remembered my first night in Oklahoma. I grew up in the forest, surrounded everywhere I went by  trees taller than buildings and rolling hills. Because of this, I only ever really saw tiny portions of the sky, and that was only on the few nights the sky wasn't filled with rain clouds. 

I remembered how in my trip to Oklahoma, we stayed in campsites as we traveled through the country. My first night in Oklahoma, I remember stepping outside the tent and looking up and nearly falling over, completely speechless as I tried to take in the beauty of the giant star filled sky that was all around me. We were in a large field with no trees, and no hills so I could see for miles. I had never seen so many stars and a sky so big. 

I believed I would spend every single night, for all my years in Oklahoma, going out to look at the stars. I actually did for the first couple weeks. But then life happened. I got busy living, and forgot to look up and appreciate what was all around me. 

It all got me to thinking about how we get so busy living life, that we forget to stop and take the time to actually live life. It's an age old problem but social media has brought around a new twist. How often have I posted pictures and went on adventures where all I was thinking about was how to fit it in to my next Facebook post? How often am I so busy looking down at my phone trying to pacify my bored mind, that I miss out on all the amazing sights and experiences all around me. 

It's been a problem for a long time, where a person has dreams. They go out and get a job to be able to fulfill those dreams. But then they spend all their time working, and usually they are working to pay for gas and food and clothes for work. They in essence begin working to work. They lose sight of their dreams, and they quit living life. Add to that the twist of social media. People get so caught up in impressing their "friends" online, that they forget to actually have friends. They take a picture of the beautiful sunset, and forget to actually stop and stare, and appreciate the sunset. People build a picture perfect plate of food to post online for their friends to see, instead of having friends over to see it for themselves and enjoy the meal and conversation with them. 

When was the last time you saw something beautiful or inspiring, and just took the time to admire it, without taking a picture, or updating your status about it? How often do you have a conversation with someone and laugh out loud, versus just a comment of "lol" to some meme they made up while the both of you sit far apart?  When is the last time you told someone face to face, outside of your immediate family, how much you love or appreciate them? When's the last time you picked up a phone, or sent a letter to maintain your relationship with those whom you were very close to before distance separated you? It's been a long time for me. 

I realize that just as work and school made me forget to appreciate the earth around me, social media has made me forget to appreciate the friends around me. And I don't believe it's just me who has this problem. 

Two days ago I deleted my Facebook and I have been trying to make a more active effort to write letters, make phone calls, and see the people who are in my "social network". Then this morning I took a walk down a busy riverside trail. I looked around me and saw: birds soaring through the sky, the sunshine hitting the river water, a fish leap into the air, warm wind blowing through the colorful fall trees, and people...lots of people. These people were all looking down at their phones, missing the splendor all around them. I saw couples walking together, where both paid no attention to each other as they messed with their phones. 

And the biggest thing I noticed about these people, they all had unhappy frowns. One guy momentarily smiled as he took a selfie, but went right back to his frown when he lowered his phone from the air and typed something. 

If you are reading this, and can relate in anyway, then I ask you today to do something to make a change. Maybe not as drastic deleting your social media, but how about calling your mother? Or mailing a letter to that friend that moved away? Or pull someone close to you and tell them how much they mean to you? Or gather up your friends to go do something fun? Or take a drive or walk through nature without taking a single picture or updating your status about it?  Please join me in taking the time to live again, not just having posts about life. Take the time to love, take the time to give thanks, take the time to look up and see all the beauty in people and nature, that you've been missing. 

My final request is that if you like this post, do not share it online. Go and show it to someone. 

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