On connection and mindfulness

Cody Dehaan has written a nice response to episode 29 of 52 Pickup, in which I explored social media’s role in contemporary friendships. Cody wonders if we sacrifice mindfulness in exchange for ubiquitous connectivity:

“Our society encourages and enables us to always be focused on something other than what is in front of us. It manifests in all sorts of ways: we are constantly focused on the next big band and what movies are coming out soon. Despite many of us having more than enough material goods, we are always enticed to spend just a little more than we have to acquire goods that are just a bit better and will purportedly (but in actuality will not) make us happier. We drive our cars while we listen to the latest music and get advertised at while we text and eat breakfast on our way to work. And then, when we come home to our families, or spend time with our friends, we check our emails and communicate with everyone else instead of enjoying who we are with.”

Two years ago, I was in a grocery store checkout line with my then five-year-old. As I unloaded the cart, he said, “Look at the snowman.”

“What snowman?”

“The snowman,” he said.

“There’s no snowman, William. It’s summertime.”

“There’s a snowman.”

I followed his finger. It was pointing to a balloon in the floral section, about 30 yards from the checkout counter. A balloon shaped like a snowman. That was the day I started to wonder about what else I was missing [1. And, not coincidentally, a few weeks before I visited the Zen Center for the first time.]. It was also the day I promised myself to spend less time staring at my phone and more time observing and enjoying the world around me.

Dehaan is right. We’re constantly told, “Look here.” It’s very difficult to resist.